Wednesday, April 30, 2008


My evening and weekend schedule has been occupied with hockey games since the Stanley Cup playoffs began on April 9th. My husband's brother and his wife came for a visit the second weekend. The list of items that I need to do is getting longer. I decided to take a day off today and did not realize that the date was April 30th, 33 years ago when Saigon, South Viet Nam fell to the Northern Vietnamese Communists. How ironic that I could overlook the most important date in the history of my birth country, the day when my life was dramatic changed and so were millions of Vietnamese people and also politically impacted the rest of the world.
I found these photos, probably between 1981-1984, taken in the early years in America. Back then, I was full of youthful energy, ambitions and naive with my dream of going back to Viet Nam, joined forces with Vietnamese freedom fighters to take our country back from the Communists. I was among the demonstrators, holding the South Vietnamese flag, singing Quoc Ca (Vietnamese national anthem) and shouting slogans such as "Down with the Vietnamese Communists" or "We shall return to a Free Viet Nam". There were about 100 people, some people came from nearby states such as Philadelphia and New Jersey, including photographers and local television reporters. The demonstration started at the corner of 1st and 49th street, after a few speeches and more shouting, we marched along 1st Avenue, confined to the other side of the streets in front of the United Stations and then shouting, singing some more at the corner of 42nd street. After that, everyone went home or to Chinatown to do shopping, eating and each in our own struggle to survive in the new land awaiting until the next demonstration.
I don't remember much of what I saw or knew on April 30, 1975. If I think real hard and dig deep into my memory, I probably find something. I don't think my experience was so horrible that my mind tried to erase what happened. Actually, it was uneventful as we left Saigon and went to Cai Tau Ha, the village where my maternal grandparents lived. The village was far from Saigon and my grandparents felt that we would be protected under their social and political connections. We left Saigon because there was widespread news that it would be a blood bath when the Communists took over. We saw the image of tanks rolling into the Presidential Palace, pushed down the iron gates of U.S. Embassy, shown on television, as part of the celebration broadcasted by the new government of its victory.
33 years later, here I am living a comfortable life in the Midwest, unable to remember the details what happened 33 years ago. My brother mentioned about in memorial of an uncle, Doung Pha, and how he was killed on April 30th. There are many versions of his death, whether he was foolish to be the last brave soldier to fight or he just took the wrong coat of a captain and was shot down, mistaken for someone who was important.
For a selfish reason, my husband commented that he was glad that my family came to America. If the Communists never took over Saigon on April 30, 1975, my family would never leave Viet Nam in 1979, never came to America in 1980 and my husband would never meet me at United Nations in 1987. However, if we left Viet Nam but did not survive the boat journey, either captured and killed by the pirates in the open sea or was sponsored by relatives in Seattle, Washington, instead of New York, what then? Life is a mystery and a lot of what ifs.

Saturday, April 26, 2008


Yes I know there are eight teams still battle in Round 2 of the Stanley Cup playoffs. What I am referring to "And then, There are Three", the three Original Teams, Montreal Canadiens, New York Rangers and Detroit Red Wings. I was disappointed when Ottawa Senators was swept by Pittsburgh Penguins and San Jose Sharks eliminated Calgary Flames. Here is my Fantasy Stanley Cup playoffs matchup - Canadiens, Bruins, Blackhawks, Maple Leafs, Rangers & Red Wings, all other four Canadian teams, and the six spots left go to other U.S. teams.
Currently, it looks like it will be a very quick and easy Round 2 with Penguins already up three games win against my hometown Rangers, Canadiens are not playing well against the Flyers as the series is at 2-1 Flyers. On the other happy note, Dallas Stars took the lead up three games against the Sharks. And the best series, my beloved Detroit Red Wings won the first three games against Colorado Avalanche. I have a friendly wager for a free lunch with a business colleague. I am going to wait until Friday morning, after game 4 Thursday night, to gloat and torment those who dislike and made negative prediction against my Red Wings.

We went to a Rangers v. Canadiens game last December but I have no photos to post. While staying at my brother's house in New York, after handed him the memory sticks, I neglected to check to make sure that photos from my precious hockey game was uploaded onto the CD. A miscommunication occurred and I erased the memory sticks, only found out later when we got back to St. Louis, that the photos from the game were never transferred onto the CD. At first I was heart broken and upset at myself for being so careless. Then I thought, "100 years from now, or after I am dead and gone, who else cares about the photos?". I was there at the game, enjoyed the moment, wasn't that enough?
Below is a replica of the Montreal Canadiens' locker room at the Hockey Hall of Fame. I was too excited and forgot to take photos, so this photo is only from a postcard.

Thursday, April 10, 2008


I was able to capture but not a close-up snapshot of the billboard showing Nicklas Lidstrom asking "Are You In?" as the Red Wings again are in the playoffs. In future entries I will share with my adoring fans many interesting photos from the City of Detroit.

Here is my hockey pucks collection. I normally obtained the pucks representing the teams that I saw at the games. The above Original Six was purchased when we visited the Hockey Hall of Fame last year. I plan to purchase other pucks when attending the games in Montreal, Boston, and Chicago (I already got the Maple Leafs puck).
I have two New York Rangers pucks, the one below was obtained last December at the game and another puck was from a few years ago when the Rangers (Eastern Conference) made a rare visit to St. Louis (Western Conference) as the teams do not meet very often being from different conferences. I don't remember where and when I got the New Jersey Devils puck but it comes in handy for this entry. The Rangers won the first two games, loss game 3, then came back strong in game 4 & 5 to eliminate the Devils last Friday.
Currently (as of Sunday, April 20th) in the Eastern Conference, the Pittsburgh Penguins swept the Ottawa Senators and the New York Rangers eliminated the New Jersey Devils. The Boston Bruins forced game 7 when they won 5-4 in game 6 over the Montreal Canadiens. Game 6 between the Washington Capitals v. the Philadelphia Flyers was scheduled for Monday.
Old rivaries Detroit Red Wings and Colorado Avalanche will have an opportunity for an exciting match-up as both teams moved on to Round 2 after eliminated their opponents. Still fighting for a chance to advance are San Jose Sharks v. Calvary Flames and Dallas Stars v. Anaheim Ducks.
Latest News - As I am finishing up this entry, the Red Wings eliminated Nashville Predators in game 6 with a shutout 3-0. At-A-Boy Ozzie! Since winning its 10th Stanley Cup in 2002, the Red Wings disappointed many die-hard fans when the team was ousted by Anaheim Ducks in 2003, then again by Calgary Flames in 2004 and the worst heart-break painful series eliminated by the 8th seed Edmonton Oilers in 2006.
Why am I blogging instead of watching my beloved Red Wings game? Because even though the listing showed that the game would be on NBC, instead the local affiliated station was showing the Cardinals baseball game! In desperation, I began looking thru all the sports channels. Versus was showing a bicycle race and other stations were showing more baseball games, NBA playoffs, golf, bull riding and fishing! I could not believe a station even showed Bowling Tournament - an activity for girly men! How I wish I was in Canada, for sure with complete coverage from CBC (Hockey Night in Canada), TSN, RDS, I would never miss any playoffs series.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008


On Sunday, April 6th my husband and I took an early flight at 8:30 a.m. from St. Louis and arrived in Detroit at 11:00 a.m. to attend the Red Wings last regular season home game against the Chicago Blackhawks. We picked up the rental car from the airport, arrived at Joe Louis Arena about 15 minutes before the game, just enough time to watch the teams practice. It was another meaningless game as the Blackhawks already out of playoff contention. However, this is my 2nd Original Six game. Last Christmas, we saw the game between the New York Rangers v. the Montreal Canadiens at Madison Square Garden. I still need to see the Toronto Maple Leafs v. the Boston Bruins.
Above is the statue of "Mr. Hockey" Gordie Howe #9 who just turned 80 last month. Howe played for 23 seasons, won 4 Stanley Cups, named to more than 20 All-Star games, a dozen of Art Ross and Hart Memorial Trophies combined and a Hall of Famer. Howe, together with Sid Abel #12 and Ted Lindsay #7, was known as The Production Line that led the Red Wings to the Cup in 1950 and again 1952.

Below are 10 Stanley Cup Banners on the rafters and #9 among other great players whose numbers were retired. The most recent number is #19 Da Captain Steve Yzerman.

Da Captain Nicklas Lidstrom (above) accepted the President's Trophy as the team with the best winning record. I read in a book that hockey players are mong the most supertious people. Players would not touch and definitely not carry any trophy or award prior to the playoffs. It was believed that such action could ruin a chance of winning the ultimate Holy Grail, the Stanley Cup.
Below is the banner showing young 18 years old Steve Yzerman chosen by the Red Wings as their #1 draft. Stevie Y. was named team Captain when he was only 21 and remained the longest active captain until he retired last year.

After the game we went to Chelios Bar & Grill for late lunch/early dinner. I was not impressed with the selections on the menu, the food was good but nothing worth praising. My husband enjoyed the special Chelios chilli. The atmosphere was typical sports bar that carry the names of famous players, large screen televisions, lot of sports related displays and autographed items on the walls. Most of the people there came for a chance to see Chris Chelios more than quality of the food.
We returned the rental car with more than an hour before our scheduled flight at 6:30 p.m. However, the flight was delayed until 8:00 p.m. because the plane could not get in from Orlando, Florida due to bad weather there. We finally got home around 10:30 p.m. It was a great colorful weekend - Blue, Blues and Red!

Monday, April 07, 2008


We attended the last home game of the St. Louis Blues, watching a meaningless game against Columbus Blue Jackets. These two teams were among the 14 non-playoff teams. Out of respect to the fans, the players played a physical game, checking hard, moving the pucks at high speed and there were many fights broke out, starting with less than 5 minutes into the first period.

The Blues had the fourth-lowest point total in the league which gave the team a chance at winning the lottery for the 1st round draft pick. This is the kind of lottery no sport teams would want to win. Under the NHL lottery system, only the five teams with the fewest points (losing the most games) had the chance to win the first overall drafting position for the Entry Draft. The Blues won the game 4-1, still in the bottom five teams with the worst records and in contention for the top selection in the draft.

The above photo captured an interview of Manny Legace when he was presented the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy. The signs "Thank You Blues Fans" kept flashing throughout the arena. There was not much to celebrate or even to get excited as the NHL first round Conference quarterfinal to start on April 9th. This is the 2nd straight year that the Blues missed the playoffs. There was high hopes with the signing of Paul Kariya, then Andy McDonald who was supposed to add depth to the line with Kariya and Tkachuk. Late addition of Cam Janssen, acquired from New Jersey Devils did not make major impact to the games. Young players such as Brad Boyes and Erik Johnson could not carry the team into the playoffs despite of individual scoring records.

There were many prizes given out, but no free beer. I was not quick enough to capture the sign that read "Just Kidding!" after the above sign was displayed. We were disappointed that the Blues did not give out free tickets for next season. The last few years, all fans attended the last home game would receive a coupon to trade in for one free ticket. Mind you these free tickets were extremely restricted such as only weekday games, no Detroit, Chicago, Colorado games or any other popular teams.
The banners (photo below) showed the years the Blues won Division, Conference, League titles and in 2000 the President's Trophy. The one banner that is still missing from the rafters is the Stanley Cup Championship (Detroit Red Wings has 10 Stanley Cup banners). Perhaps next season, until then, it is entertaining listening to Charles Glenn singing, "When the Cup matching in to St. Louis"!

Saturday, April 05, 2008


Wow - it has been a few weeks since my last published entry. The last few weeks have gone by with so much to share with my adoring fans. So here are the things that have kept me busy beginning with the Blue Man Group concert, How to Be a Megastar Tour 2.1 at Scottrade Center on Friday, April 4th. The show was humorous, energetic with theatrical acts incorporate rock music with odd props. The lighting was overwhelming at time that I had to cover my eyes to avoid getting a headache. The music was not as loud as I thought it would be but the earplugs were handy. I was not sure if cameras were allowed inside and I did not want to leave my camera in the car, so we did not take any photos during the performance. Plus the photos probably would be too dark for posting anyway. The following photos are from the program.
The Blue Man Group consists of three mute performers who play various non-traditional instruments, spit paints on the audience and act without saying a word. The dress code is nondescript, utilitarian black clothing with the signature blue grease paint, latex bald caps, earless and without facial expressions. The only communication is thru the eyes and eyebrows suggesting curiosity, surprise, wonder, intense eye contact to show emotions and simple gestures which most of time create humor and reactions from the audience.

From the humble beginning nearly two decades ago with the three original Blue Man performing on the streets of New York City for passersby while working as caterers for a food company, the group has become an international show. There are about 60 Blue Men and only one known Blue Woman perform worldwide. Performers are between 5-10 and 6-1 tall and must endure tough physical requirements. Typical custom musical instruments in the shows are various sizes and types of PVC pipes, airpoles which create a "swoosh" sound when swung sharply, other noise makers, drum sticks and shaker gong.

The above page in the program illustrates various Rock Concert Movement such as the Basic Head Bob (moving your head up, down, side to side), Up and Down Jumping Motion and other silly movements to get the audience involved. At the end of the concert, after sitting properly in our seats, my husband and I joined in the Raise the Roof with both hand raised pushing upward like crazy people and The Two Arm Upward Thrust with Yell movements. At that moment, we felt so free, no longer inhibited in our natural behaviors!

The page below was the songs about Persona which was behaviors or masks we wear in public compared to the true inner self when we are alone or in our private element. Other songs were about people in the state of obsessive anxiety, unsure of where they belong and who their friends are. There were other acts that employ thought-provoking satire on modern life.
The next day, on Saturday, April 5th we attended the last home game of the St. Louis Blues playing a meaningless game against Columbus Blue Jackets because neither team would be in the playoffs. It was Fan Appreciation Day and there were many nice prizes (autographed items and airlines tickets) given out. We did not win anything but our section was selected to receive free burgers.
Manny Legace on the left chatting with Keith Tkachuk during practice.

Manny Legace was presented the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy which is given annually to a player who best exempligies the qualities of perserverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey. Da Captain Steve Yzerman also received the Trophy in 2003.
Photo below shows the players gathered in the center of the ice, raised their sticks as an expression of thanks to the fans.
On Sunday, April 6th the flight at 8:30 a.m. took us to Detroit around 11:00 a.m. just in time to pick up our rental car, on our way to Joe Louis Arena for a 12:30 p.m. game between the two Original Six the Detroit Red Wings v. the Chicago Blackhawks. More about this day-trip in the next entry.


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