Tuesday, April 19, 2011

President Obama and Sarah Palin extend their Passover wishes in similar ways

President Barack Obama called Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday to wish him a happy Passover. On Saturday, Obama delivered a message to all Jews in an attempt to send warm wishes "to all those celebrating the sacred festival of Passover."

"The story of Passover — which recalls the passage of the children of Israel from bondage and repression to freedom and liberty — inspires hope that those oppressed and enslaved can become free," Obama said in a statement. "This year, that ancient instruction is reflected in the daily headlines as we see modem stories of social transformation and liberation unfolding in the Middle East and North Africa. Against the backdrop of change, we continue to pray for peace between Israel and her neighbors, while reaffirming our enduring commitment to Israel’s security."

PalinFormer Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin posted a Passover message to her Facebook account on Monday that mirrored Obama's in structure and substance.

"Tonight is Passover, the Jewish people’s celebration of their deliverance from bondage and their Exodus to the Land of Israel," Palin wrote. "Passover contains poignant spiritual and historical meaning for Jews, but it also reminds all of us of mankind’s universal aspiration to be free from bondage and oppression.

"Today, in the same region where the story of Exodus took place, Arabs suffering under despotic regimes are seeking their own freedom and self-determination. As Jews in Israel, the Middle East’s only liberal democracy, gather for Passover, we hope for the spread of freedom and peace throughout the region. On this Passover holiday, our family sends our best wishes to the Jewish community. Chag kasher V'Sameach. Happy Passover. And next year in Jerusalem," Palin posted.

The woman who famously described herself as a hockey mom spent two days in Israel last month, where she expressed her support for the the nation, met with Netanyahu and sported a Star of David necklace. During a tour around the sacred Western Wall, she asked her guides, "Why are you apologizing all the time?" after being told that Jews were not allowed to pray openly on the Temple Mount.

Monday, April 4, 2011

More on Alex Ovechkin and Michelle Obama

Like you and me, Karl Alzner follows Alex Ovechkin on Twitter, and so he saw the image Ovechkin posted of himself with the First Lady on Friday night.

“I don’t know how he did that,” Alzner said. “How the heck did that happen, is what I want to know. I thought they eat at home with their chef and stuff. I’ve got to find out about that.”

Well, I wanted to find out about it, too, so I asked Ovechkin after Monday’s practice.

“Me and [Jason] Arnott go to restaurant and she was there,” Ovechkin explained. “So I asked the manager can we take a picture with her. It was kind of cool, and she was very nice. Like, it’s unbelievable.”

This squares pretty well with the much longer account provided by a commenter at Japers Rink, who wrote that the encounter took place at BLT Steak DC. And indeed, the restaurant tweeted back at Ovechkin after he posted the photo, writing “Hope you both had a wonderful time!”

Ovechkin said Arnott snagged a photo with the First Lady, too, although he doesn’t have a Twitter account on which to share such things. And Ovi, of course, has had his picture taken with various Russian dignitaries, so he was not cowed by the moment. Obviously.

“Why I have to be nervous?” he asked me.

Teammates, as you’d guess, were mostly not surprised that there was a photo floating around of a goofily-smiling Ovechkin with his arm around the First Lady, because no one in that room seems to be surprised by much of anything that happens to their star.

“That’s just part of the way he is,” Matt Bradley said. “He’s just a happy-go-lucky guy, and he treats everyone the same, and that’s what makes him the kind of person he is .”

“Alex Ovechkin lives large and has fun,” Ted Leonsis wrote on his blog. “So does Nicklas Backstrom. As long as we are winning, I am good to go with it.”

Sunday night’s encounter with Lil Wayne was less of a surprise; a Caps PR person had let the appropriate people know in advance that a bunch of players would be around if Wayne and Drake had a moment to say hi. As usual, Ovechkin was the featured attraction.

“I think [Wayne] knew who Ovi was,”John Carlson told me. “I doubt that he would know who I was. He said, ‘Oh hey, what’s up, you guys are the Capitals, right?’ and he said something to Ovi. I don’t know, I was a little star struck.”

“He knew who Ovi was,” D.J. King confirmed. “He just said ‘Hey Ovi, what’s up.’ He recognized him, which we thought was really cool. Ovi didn’t really even notice that he recognized him — everyone was talking so quick and everything — but we picked up on it. It was cool.”

With Ovechkin now having posted photos of himself with the First Lady, Weezy, DJ Pauly D and Michael Vick in a three-week span, I figured maybe I should ask other members of the team whom their most famous celebrity photo was with. Mike Knuble has a picture of himself with Sly Stallone on his computer, which is tough to top. (Plus, Stallone is holding his fist by Knuble’s jaw.) Eric Fehr has one with Taylor Swift, from before she was famous. Alzner has one with DJ Tiesto, which he got with Ovechkin’s help. Bradley said his would be Pauly D, which means Ovechkin gets another assist. Brooks Laich had to stop and think when I asked him the question.

“Alex Ovechkin,” he said, adding “I’m not really infatuated with all that stuff. (For example, Laich was at the same memorabilia show when Ovechkin met Vick, but he declined a chance to meet the Eagles quarterback.)

I’m not sure if Ovechkin is infatuated, exactly, but it seems pretty clear he enjoys a bit of celebrity stalking. Though the celebrities seem to enjoy him back.

“I think that’s cool; he’s made a name for himself and people love watching him” Carlson said. “So that’s how that stuff happens.”