Ray Van Horn, Jr. is a veteran entertainment journalist whose writing and live photography has been featured in Blabbermouth.net, Dee Snider’s House of Hair Online, Fangoria.com, Horror News.net, About.com Heavy Metal, MetalManiacs, New Noise, Music Dish, AMP, Hails & Horns, Unrestrained,Noisecreep, Impose, Pit, The Big Takeover.com, Rough Edge.com, Pitriff and others. His blog The Metal Minute won a “Best Personal Blog” award in 2009 from Metal Hammer magazine and he wrote and produced his own hard rock e-zine, Retaliate.

He has contributed essays to UK author Neil Daniels’ Iron Maiden and ZZ Top biographies. Ray’s fiction has been published in various periodicals and anthologies, including his flash fiction piece “Off the Record” for Akashic Books’ “Mondays Are Murder” noir series. His recent short stories “Before the Ball” and “Widow” were featured in subsequent editions of Alex S. Johnson’s Axes of Evil anthologies. Ray wrote serialized original superhero fiction for Cyber Age Adventures and five of those stories appear in the anthology Playing Solitaire. He was the winner of Quantum Muse’s fiction contest in 1999.

Ray is a former NHL game analyst for The Hockey Nut and one-time host of the forum “Comic Books” at ReadWave. He has done beat reporting, photography and lifestyle articles for Metromix, an affiliate of The Baltimore Sun, Carroll Magazine, The Northern News and The Emmitsburg Dispatch.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Winter Games Are Go!

A huge oxymoron of my life is that I hate winter, but love the Winter Olympics.  I'm taking in as much of the Sochi games as my schedule permits and hats off to the grandeur and the beastly slopes of the host country.  The opening ceremonies were phenomenal as the pride of Mother Russia is well evident, even if attendance has been an issue at many of the events, prompting recruitment of volunteers to fill some of the venue seats. 

The Rosa Khutor downhill course has me tantalized and terrorized for these people who come whooshing down at top flight, faster even than Slayer, circa 1986.  That gaping view of the lake on the second to last jump leaves me mesmerized and my respect goes out to every single skier for taking on that icy monster, which decorated American Bode Miller has said "could kill you."

It going to be tough for me to break away from the Games during this shortened month with deadlines coming faster upon me since I quickly get hooked on the boarding, skiing, luging, bobsledding, speed skating and of course, my favorite sport in the world, hockey.  Curling?  Well, it's growing on me, though ice shuffleboard is a bit of a tough sell on me.  Still, my wife and I enjoy laughing at the shrieks of the women's teams as they hurriedly brush the ice with their shrill demands, "Hurrrryyyy!  Hurrrrryyy!"  And how about those harlequin colored pants on the Norwegian men curlers?  The games are so bloody serious it doesn't hurt having a little comedy relief, right? 

Every time I watch the moguls event, I find myself cringing at the sheer punishment those competitors face, thus in the back of my mind, you'll hear me groaning, "Ow ow ow ow ow ow ow ow...whooooaaaaaaa....ow ow ow ow ow ow ow...whooooooaaaaaaa...ow ow ow ow ow ow OW!"

Cheers to Jamie Anderson and Sage Kotesenburg for sweeping the gold for Team USA in the inaugural Slopestyle event this Olympics and my respect goes out to the Russian figure skaters for laying down a breathtaking team effort.  The men and women's hockey tourneys are heating up, damn skippy...  Another nod of respect to two tough Canadian slopestylers, Mark McMorris and Sarka Pancochova, who showed serious grit.  McMorris competed with a broken rib, while Pancochova, one of the favorites of the women's event, suffered a helmet-splitting crash that broke everyone's hearts, especially her competition.  I think Pancochova gliding down the course on her board after momentarily going unconscious is one of the most heroic moments of the Games thus far. 

Yeah, the Games has its share of behind-the-scenes controversies I won't get into since anyone who's paying attention to them knows what they are.  I will say I laughed my head off when Bob Costas, fighting through that awful eye infection, mentioned Russian punk band Pussy Riot by name not once but twice on a national broadcast.  Dig.

I'm an American patriot at-heart and hope our athletes grab all of the hardware they can, but I'm a human being first and foremost, so...  GO WORLD!

Listenin' to:  Bill Withers - Lean On Me:  The Best of Bill Withers

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