Feb 022011

Tighten Up

By Rich Lindbloom

[Author’s note: Before attempting to read the following article, you must Google two songs. First the “Tighten Up” by Archie Bell and the Drells and then “Emma,” by the Sisters of Mercy.]

There is a new buzz word circling amongst the “woe is us” naysayers who are attempting to define and label this year’s enigmatic Blackhawks. For those who have had front row seats to their disasters, the word is becoming as firmly entrenched as an inscription on a gravestone. The Hawks have been unofficially christened with the word “inconsistent.” As usual, I beg to differ.

First off, there is the illusion that being consistent is better than being inconsistent. Bernard Berenson once said “consistency requires you to be as ignorant today as you were a year ago.” In my whimsical mind, this year’s Hawks would more aptly be described by the word – persistence.

Following the Blackhawks this year has not been for the faint of heart. It is the classical example of Sisyphus rolling the boulder up the hill, only to see it come tumbling down again. While pondering our persistent frustrations with the Blackhawks this year, I heard a song on the radio played that could hold the key to our success as we head down the stretch.

In 1968, Archie Bell was told his song called the “Tighten Up” was on its way to selling 3 million records. At the time he was thousands of miles away, recovering from gunshot wounds in Viet Nam. I think this song is what the Psalmist had in mind when he wrote, “Make a joyful noise unto the Lord.” It is the antidote to the white man’s dancing dilemma. To get the full effect of this uplifting ditty, you need to not only listen to it, but Google it. Nobody could throw it down like the Drells – oh yeahhh! Take notes my fellow crackers.

As Archie noted in 1968, this is the music the Hawks should tighten up with. Think about the last time you were at a free skate and they played a song you liked. You can’t tell me your skating doesn’t pick up a notch.  Can you imagine figure skating without music. (Don’t tell me you didn’t get excited with the military themed music during the “Battle of the Brians!”) With every triple-axle those two swashbucklers brought us to the edge of our TV.

In sports it’s what’s known as letting the game come to you. In golf, it’s the absence of tension in the forearms or grip. To put it another way – get your groove on – it’s all about flow, baby. Oh yeahh. Ironically, the “Tighten Up” song has just the opposite effect of the title. After a few notes, you instantly become “loose as a goose.” This could pay dividends as we head into our “next” must win game. And it seems like every game we’ve played, starting about week three, has been a “must” win.

OK drummer tighten up on the drums one time, c’mon drummer – oh yeahhh

As we tighten up on the drums, I’m reminded of a Goth group out of Leeds, England called the “Sisters of Mercy.” Whenever the Hawks lose this year it seems every article I read is born out of this groups dark, haunting dirge called Emma. The Sisters of Mercy were led by Andrew Eldritch and his drum machines called Doktor Avalanche. Listening to Eldritch’s foreboding baritone is enough to cause adults to slash their wrists and children to have recurring nightmares of the anti-Raffi.

It was a cold and dark December night
When I opened up the bedroom door
To find her lying
Still and cold upon the bed

Truthfully, you could have substituted those four lines for any of the articles written on the Hawks after the Wild snuck out of town, under the cover of an immensely fortunate win. I watched the highlights three times from that game and couldn’t believe how many prime scoring chances didn’t go in for us – drat foiled again.

Now let that bass part in – oh yeahhh.

The bottom line is Keith and Seabrook just ain’t cutting it – dump them. Look, I hate to take a hard line on this but in my Fantasy hockey league if a player isn’t producing you replace him with the hottest nozzle you can find. The Duncster continues to try to amputate the opposition’s legs with his telegraphed slap shots. It actually appears he waits for them to get in front of him. At that point I believe he screams out, “You gonna die sucka!” I can’t recall one good play either one of those knuckleheads have made in the last two weeks. With their plus minus numbers they should be known for manning the red line, not the blue line. They’re washed up – bring back Sopel and Barker. Hell, put Boyton and Scott back together. “Bench em!”

Although he might have been able to do a little more than he did to stop Havlat, the goal was clearly a result of the synergistic dumbfoundedness (I’m pretty sure that isn’t a word, but it fits.), of Seabs and Crawford. That goal should have never happened – it’s just been that type of season. The frustration Keith must have felt when he couldn’t bury Kaner’s perfect set up and then clanged one off the post, reminds me of a story.

A member of the Hillcrest golf team was in a tight match with a hacker from Tinley Park. When the T.P. player launched a drive deep into the woods, members from both teams began an assiduous search for his wayward drive. My friend spotted the ball first, quickly picking it up and putting it in his pocket. He was quite astonished, and quite dismayed, when the T.P. hacker moments later exclaimed, “Here it is. I found it.” I’m thinking you can begin to imagine the frustration of the Hillcrest golfer, knowing his opponent was a lying, cheating, conniving scumbag and not being able to tell him that! That my friends probably describes the Hawks season thus far in a nut shell.

Now let that guitar part in – c’mon Johnny B. Goode guitar player! – yeahhh

I’m not going to say the referee cheated Toews out of a goal – I’m pretty sure it was an honest mistake. It’s just ever since that high school golf episode, I’ve had a hard time trusting anyone. If ever there was a time for a Lysiak moment, that was it. I normally don’t swear, but the only two words I could think of were, “Bull Shit.” Regardless it was a great play by Kaner, who I thought had a solid game. He should have finished the night with three assists. Actually, once again we dominated the majority of the game, only to fall victim once again to the fickle finger of fate. As Samuel Butler noted:

Whatsoe’er we perpetrate
We do but row, we are steered by fate.

OK, tighten up on that “morse code” organ – yeahh

I did make an observation when we played the Flyers on Sunday, bloody Sunday. The crowd was in to it. There was a buzz and electricity in the stands that seemed spontaneous, a bit like three years ago when we were struggling to make the playoffs. More than just Sec. 321 was chanting “Let’s Go Hawks!” This is where Frank Pellico can contribute. If the game comes down to a crucial faceoff, it is imperative that you start playing the “Tighten Up.” We need loose, wild and crazy guys out there. From all indications thus far, this season is going to come down to the wire. We can’t afford to sit back and relax. Maybe we can get the big guy who danced to “Shipping Out To Boston,” last year to show us all how to do the Tighten Up – yeahh – oh yeahh! Start studying the Drell’s moves. If you show a little persistence, you’ll be loose as a goose in no time – yeahh!

Now make it mellow –  oooooohhhh yeahh!

Then again, maybe the sportswriters are right. Maybe this year Hawks do more closely resemble the song Emma. Maybe the Blackhawks are to suffer the same fate as the band in the movie The Commitments. Just as they are to make it big, everything falls apart. That’s when Joey “the lips’ Fagan tries to console the downtrodden leader Jimmy Rabitte;

JR – “I’ve accomplished nothing!”
Joey – “You’re missing the point. The success of the band was irrelevant – you raised their expectations of life, you lifted their horizons. Sure we could have been famous and made albums and stuff, but that would have been predictable. This way it’s poetry.”

This season has been anything but predictable. And if it’s poetry, it’s definitely Sylvia Plath rhymes.

Calvin Coolidge, our 30th president, said of persistence, “Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.” Those two words remind of this bunch of warriors who have struggled so mightily this year. They clearly haven’t produced the results we’re so desperate for; yet. one thing I’m sure of, if this team goes down , they’ll go down swinging.

I wrote at the beginning of the season that our goal should be to just get to the dance. Do you really think the #1 or #2 seeds would relish playing the defending Stanley Cup Champs; I didn’t think so. As Archie Bell sings “You can do it, so let’s get to it!” Go ahead, throw it down one time, it’s time to “tighten up!”

Rich Lindbloom

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