It’s been a while since we had a guest post around here, and it’s high time we change that. It’s also been a long time since we had a post that was so strange that it defied logic.

Those two things collided when Rocket — a friend of mine for 30 years and a Carolina Hurricanes fan who insists on texting me every time Nino Niederreiter scores a goal (which is often) — sent in his annual NHL playoff preview.

The playoffs start tonight, and if you like your information packaged in rambling fictional prose and Haiku poetry, this is the place to be. Rocket?


Have you ever found yourself trapped in a horribly awkward situation that you had no hope of escaping?  It is just the worst.  For example, just the other day I was stuck in the middle seat of a lengthy flight, which is bad enough.  But on one side of me was a shell-shocked henchman of an evil scientist who kept rocking back and forth and muttering, “We kept wondering how to genetically engineer villainous flying pig men, but we never stopped to ask if we should.”  On the other side of me was a nineteenth century dandy of questionable morals who kept making unsubtle hints that he wanted me to ask about his, “vast collection of exotic daguerreotypes concerning ribald lasses in unabashedly ‘artistic’ poses and attires.”  To which he always added, “yes, attires…  or lack thereof…” before giggling into his handkerchief.

At first I tried to ignore them, but the situation quickly became untenable when they began arguing over their favorite types of whips and the best application for each one.  I started to run down my mental checklist of seemingly innocuous subjects to keep things peaceable and away from the awfulness I would otherwise have to endure.  “Hey, are you guys into music?  Can you believe that they haven’t announced a thirtieth anniversary reissue for the long-settled and consensus greatest album of all time?”

The henchman kept rocking back and forth.  “We were so forsaken that the baleful cries of the innocents we tortured in the lair eventually became music to us.”

“I too,” the dandy added with an arched eyebrow, “enjoy the protestations of exquisite anguish as the lash takes its due in flesh from a just ripe… piece of fruit.”  He again raised his handkerchief to his mouth.  “Hoohooohoohehehehe,” – snort – “hoohoohoohoohoo…”

I kept scrambling.  “Uh, yeah, so, um…  How about this crazy weather we’re having?”

The henchman stopped rocking and looked me square in the eye.  “My overlord demanded that we build a machine that could control the weather.  Have you ever seen a man perish into flame and ash from a lightning bolt not of Zeus’ hand but of your own?  If you had then you would know how close you have come to losing your meaningless life in a storm of hail the size of horses.”  After an intense moment’s pause his gaze drifted a thousand miles away.  “But none of you yet know enough to live in mortal terror of a light drizzle…”

The dandy then spoke, with a mischievous grin steadily growing across his face.  “I do not fear losing my pantaloons in even the most frigid of temperatures.  For I am privy to the whereabouts of several ladies with loose corsets who, with great care and much aplomb..” as the handkerchief again rose to his face, “…can warm one’s undercarriage under any conditions.  Aaahoohoohoohehehe” – snort cough snort – “hohohohohohohoho…”

Neither of these two looked the part, but I was desperate so I placed my last chip on a longshot.  “So, yeah, um, yeah.  Anyway, are you guys big sports fans?”

The henchman began vigorously shaking his head.  “We used to watch the flying pig men hunt your kind for sport.”

The dandy was quick to follow.  “My favorite type of sport involves…” and again the handkerchief slowly rose upward, “…riding.  Sometimes with a saddle and sometimes without one.  Ahehehehehehehehehehehehe” – snort – “hoohoohoohoohoo…”

“Um, yeah, well, so anyway, you probably haven’t heard of it, but in the past I’ve written a preview of the NHL playoffs for a blog called RandBall.”

My companions both looked at me with newfound gravitas.  “RandBall?” the henchman asked.  “Isn’t he the guy who has predicted every year for the last fifteen years that this was the year that the Timberwolves were finally going to turn the corner?”

This time the dandy deliberately snorted, “Yes, he is, and he is nothing but an ill-bred fopdoodle.  Truly, this RandBall is as insufferable as those prissy damsels who imagine themselves as characters in those odious Jane Austen novels.”

“Uhhhhhhhhh, yeah, I’m not really sure, but that seems kind of sexist…  Anyway, for reasons that I can’t explain or even remember, I’ve taken to writing my capsule previews of the first round of the NHL playoffs in Haiku.”

“Haiku?” the henchman asked quizzically.  Isn’t that the tool you use to twist a person’s…”

“Oooooooooooh, do go on,” the dandy implored.

“NO!”

I froze for a moment in yet another panicky attempt to keep the conversation sane enough to make it through the flight.  “Yeah, so, no.  A haiku is a type of poem.”  Now words were just tumbling out of my mouth as I tried to keep the two of them from speaking.  “Yeah, and, um, so anyway, I…I…I guess,” as my tone twisted into something resembling a question, “I’m maybe having some writer’s block?  So, yeah, I’m having a tough time writing this preview.  Do you think maybe you guys could help me?”

Perhaps sensing that it was the only way we were all going to get along, both the henchman and dandy readily agreed.  I assigned each companion his own conference: the Eastern Conference for the henchman and the Western Conference for the dandy.  We finished as the plane touched down and parted on amicable terms, even if we all implicitly understood that it was best that we never have anything to do with each other ever again.

So, here it is!  Your first round NHL playoff preview with a little help from my flight companions!

Western Conference (dandy)

Nashville Predators v. Dallas Stars

I enjoy the chase

I’m a type of predator

I slay the beast *wink*

San Jose Sharks v. Vegas Golden Knights

Many times I’ve watched

Ones dressed in a knight’s armor

Find a way to score

Calgary Flames v. Colorado Avalanche

Only a hot flame

Can match the burning in my

Deep nether region

Winnipeg Jets v. St. Louis Blues

Asphyxiation

Leads to a deep shade of blue

Most pleasurable

Eastern Conference (henchman)

Tampa Bay Lightning v. Columbus Blue Jackets

The flying pig men

Slaughtered everything in sight

Much like the Lightning

New York Islanders v. Pittsburgh Penguins

Vengeful penguins are

Occupational hazards

In my line of work

Washington Capitals v. Carolina Hurricanes

We never finished

The weather control machine

Thus D.C. is safe

Boston Bruins v. Toronto Maple Leafs

Every day is dark

Living in a volcano

The Bruins in five

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