Sunday, February 28, 2010

MONDAY MORNING MUSINGS

I'll take a heaping helping of crow, please, but not too much, because I want to leave some room for humble pie.

After a disappointing first week for Canada in Vancouver, I wrote off the Olympic "Own the Podium" initiative as a typical example of ill-conceived claptrap conjured up by bureaucrats who set unrealistic goals, then run for cover and let someone else take the blame when the expectations don't pan out. I still think it was presumptuous, boastful and decidedly un-Canadian, but there's no disputing the results. Whether we amassed a Canadian record 26 medals - including a Winter Olympic record 14 gold - because of "Own the Podium" or despite it is for the athletes to answer.

-The biggest revelation of the Olympic hockey tournament - for me, at least - was the collective strength of the next generation of Canadian defencemen. Drew Doughty, Duncan Keith and Shea Weber were absolute beasts, Brent Seabrook didn't look out of place, and if you project Mike Green, Brent Burns and Dion Phaneuf into the mix for the next Olympics, that's a lot of thunder and lightning on the Team Canada blue line in 2014.

-Speaking of Doughty and Weber, what a shame that emerging talents of their calibre are plying their professional trade in hockey backwaters like Los Angeles and Nashville. Ditto Rick Nash in Columbus. Imagine Brampton, Ontario's Nash as a Leaf, Ottawa native Doughty as a Senator or the BC-born Weber as a Canuck. They would be hockey gods.

-After scoring the Olympic gold medal-clinching overtime goal on top of winning the Stanley Cup, what does Sidney Crosby do for a second encore?

-Habs at Boston tomorrow night; who gets the start - a well-rested Carey Price or Jaroslav Halak, who backstopped ninth-ranked Slovakia to a fourth place finish in Vancouver? Let the arguing, bickering, finger-pointing, pissing and moaning begin. God, how I've missed it.

Friday, February 26, 2010

WHY HITLER IS FUNNY

Okay, once more about the Germans, and then I'll move on.
My great and good friend and former colleague, CFRB Toronto morning man John Moore - who's one of the brightest and funniest people I know - has a fundamental rule for comedy: it doesn't necessarily have to be funny as long as it sounds funny. Contextual absurdity falls neatly into that comedic theory, and that's why Hitler is funny.
Let's be clear on a few things: World War Two was not funny. The Holocaust was not funny. The Nuremberg Trials were not funny (although the ill-fitting civilian clothes worn by several high-ranking Nazis reduced them to a grimly laughable parody of their former strutting selves.) But the sheer enormity of the events themselves makes them fodder for absurdist humour.
The chief proponent of the "Hitler is funny" theory isn't an insensitive goy or a misguided neo-Nazi, but a Jewish combat veteran of World War Two. Nazis figure prominently in several of Mel Brooks' films - most notably The Producers, which won an Academy Award for Best Screenplay in 1968. (If you've only seen the remake with Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick, do yourself a favor and find a copy of the original with Zero Mostel and Gene Wilder. If you haven't seen either, start with the original.) Any movie built around the premise of a Broadway musical called "Springtime for Hitler" penned by a fictional German helmet-wearing playwright whose best friends are pigeons has to proceed on the assumption that there's humour to be found in the foibles of der Fuhrer and his Nazi minions. And Brooks finds it in spades.
The same comedic principle applies to the slew of spoofs involving the 2004 German language-film "Untergang," one of which is found on the blog entry below this one. Of course, it's all in the writing, and some of the Untergang spoofs are funnier than others. But the absurd notion of history's most notorious mass murderer in a psychotic rage because the US beat Team Canada at the Olympics or someone hacked into his Xbox Live account or he can't get an advance copy of Modern Warfare 2 is a solid basis for the kind of fundamental irony that underpins any successful attempt at intelligent humour.
The man himself wasn't funny, and his brutal legacy is certainly no laughing matter, but taken out of context and with the proper application of the comedic craft, it doesn't get any funnier than Hitler.
And if you still have trouble accepting that notion, just ask these cats.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

SPEAKING OF THE GERMANS...

Those spoofs of "Downfall" never get old. Check out Hitler's reaction to Canada losing to the US in the qualifying round of men's Olympic hockey. Spelling and grammar are off in places but it's pretty funny. Big payoff punchline at the end.
Click here.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

DON'T MENTION THE WAR

The best part about beating the Germans again was that this time, we didn't have to stay behind and rebuild Europe.
I know it was 65 years ago, but tell me you didn't cringe or giggle or shift uncomfortably in your seat during last night's Canada-Germany Olympic hockey game every time play-by-play announcer Gord Miller said "Here come the Germans," "Germany is on the counterattack" or "The Germans are knocking at the door."
Starting a couple of world wars within 25 years of each other has a way of saddling you with an image and a reputation that tends to resurface every once in a while, regardless of context and the passage of time.
I'm not making the point as a means of fomenting hostility against modern Germany, nor to make light of a war of aggression and genocide that was the defining life experience for people who still live among us. Whether military veterans, civilians or Holocaust survivors, they more than anyone are probably struck by the irony of Germany once again going "into battle" against historic foes.
The good news is that even though we've fought each other in two world wars, Canadians and Germans don't have a genuine hate on for each other, and the aforementioned sense of irony isn't accompanied by any measurable degree of hostility. If you want hockey rivalries rooted in palpable antipathy, try Finland and Russia or Russia versus the Czech Republic or the Russians and anyone whose country they invaded and/or occupied during the Soviet era. Canada versus the US or Finland against Sweden can both get chippy by times, but seldom if ever to the point of outright malevolence. The Swiss, as usual, have no significant rivals, and as relative also-rans on the international hockey stage, neither do the Germans.
Of course, soccer is an entirely different story. Listen to the play-by-play in any language during a major international match between rival European countries and you'd think it's still 1945. I don't know whether the Brits are the worst offenders or if it's just that I have a much stronger command of English than I do of any other language, but British bias against the Germans, French and Italians during the World Cup or the European championships is laughable. I'm told by people with more linguistic range than my own that the same is true of national broadcasters from other countries.
Happily for mankind, we seem to be evolving to the point where hostility between nations is confined to the sporting arena, and we've come up with formulas and mechanisms that allow us to more often than not settle political or diplomatic disputes without having to resort to armed global conflict.
Now, if we can just come up with a blueprint for reconciling religious differences...

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

BEST HEADLINE EVER

Not to take away from her gold medal in the ski cross, but every time I hear Ashleigh McIvor's name, I think of Ashley McIsaac - the eccentric Cape Breton fiddler who publicly admitted several years ago that his sexual proclivities included "water sports" with a younger male partner, prompting this headline on the cover page of the Montreal Mirror:

TEMPEST IN A PEE POT
Urine trouble now


Still makes me giggle.

ANOTHER HALLMARK BIRD FAMILY MOMENT

Verbatim exchange between my 10 year old son, Sam, and myself over $6.99 meatballs at the IKEA cafeteria:

"Hey, Dad, you know my friend Victoria?"

"Yeah."

"She's a vegetarian."

"Uh-huh."

"Yeah, she only eats hot dogs, bacon and chicken nuggets."

Kind of like Keith Richards when he was still drinking but considered himself sober because he'd quit heroin. Whatever works, I guess...

Sunday, February 21, 2010

MONDAY MORNING MUSINGS

When the Winter Olympics are over, let's have a big bonfire, and use the bureaucrats who came up with the "Own the Podium" program as kindling. Or if we can't get a campfire permit, we could always just boil them in oil.
Thanks to an overly ambitious program conceived by a bunch of desk-jockeys with access to the public trough, Canada's performance to date in Vancouver is being widely perceived as disappointing and deficient, which is hugely unfair on a number of levels, not least of which is that Canada's much-publicized "shortcomings" have detracted from what we've accomplished. I've read and heard at least as much about the medals we supposedly should have won but didn't as I have about the Canadian athletes who've actually ascended the podium, of whom there have been nine to date, which is good for fourth place in the standings. That would be more than respectable under ordinary circumstances, but in the existing climate of extraordinary and cringeworthy Canadian presumption, it's a national crisis.
Own the Podium was a recipe for failure that's unfairly burdening athletes with blame that should be directed at the pencil-pushers who saddled them with unrealistic expectations.

-Team Canada goaltender Martin Brodeur played his way out of the starting job in the 5-3 loss to the US last night. Period.

-The most impressive thing about Alex Ovechkin's teeth-rattling bodycheck on Jaromir Jagr in the Russia-Czech Republic game was that Jagr got right back up after the hit.

-Somebody tell Casey Jones at Canada Hockey Place that we only blow the train horn when the home team scores.

-Speaking of Canada Hockey Place, could they possibly have come up with a more mundane and non-descript arena name, or was "Domestic Ice Hockey Facility" already taken?

-As much as it would go against their client's instincts, when Tiger Woods' handlers put together the invitation-only media list for last week's mea culpa news conference, they presumably stacked the deck with old, fat newspaper guys and told the smoking-hot TV babes to stay at the office and plug into the pool feed.

FOR THE LOVE OF GOD...

Please read my Montreal Gazette blog before they take it away. Thanks.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

WOMENZzzzzzzzzzzzz hockey

Allow me to preface this by saying with all the earnestness at my command that I appreciate and respect how far women's hockey has come in a relatively short period of time. I've played hockey against women and had my jock handed to me by opposite gender rivals whose skill and fitness levels were both far superior to mine. But compared to what the men bring to the barn, the calibre of women's hockey does not justify its inclusion in the Winter Olympics.

Part of the problem is the lack of parity. If current tournament statistics are anything to go by, there's a huge discrepancy between the two "traditional" women's hockey powerhouses - Canada and the US - and the rest of the Olympic field, down to and including last place China. Yes, China. I'm watching the Chinese play Switzerland, and in a milieu that's supposed to be celebrating athletic excellence on a global scale, it's nothing short of an embarrassment. That's hardly surprising. Even the Canadian and American women play at a tangibly plodding pace, and they're the so-called elite.

It may be sexist to use gender comparison as a yardstick, but it's also the most accurate and realistic means of measuring athletic prowess. If Roger Federer is the best tennis player in the world(and he is), he is the standard by whom all other tennis players should be measured, male or female. And in the world of tennis, there's not a lot that separates the men from the women. Federer would consistently beat either Williams sister but he'd have his hands full in the process, just as Natalie Gulbis and Michelle Wie would give Tiger Woods a decent run for his money on the golf course, especially if he were preoccupied with trying to convince them to go skinny dipping in a water hazard. I've also seen some kick-ass women's baseball players who can bring the heat, field a hot smash on a short hop and either lay off a nasty curveball or take it the other way at a more than respectable level of competition.

At the Olympic level, too, the women as often as not provide the most prolific performances and dramatic moments in figure skating, speedskating, cross country, downhill and freestyle skiing, luge and skeleton. (To the uninitiated and disinterested, curling is boring regardless of gender.)

Hockey, however, is a different beast. The physical nature of the sport and the sheer speed and skill at which it's played at the elite men's level represent a combined circumstance that exposes the women's game as less than world class. That's a brutal assessment, but anyone who watched the Switzerland-China snoozefest will recognize it as brutally honest.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

GORDON LIGHTFOOT (*yawn*) NOT DEAD

Gordon Lightfoot?
That's it? That's the best Canadian death hoax we could come up with? And at a time when the whole world is watching us?
With all due respect Lightfoot, who's one of a slew of famous Canadian Gordies alongside Howe, Downie and Sinclair among others, the guy hasn't had a hit record since the 1970s. Ask most people beyond our borders who or what Gordon Lightfoot is, and the most likely responses are a native actor or a brand of Canadian rye whiskey.
At the risk of being appallingly insensitive, the obvious candidate for a Canadian death hoax is actor Michael J. Fox. He's got an international profile and it's well-known that he's suffering from Parkinson's Disease. I'm not making light of Fox's condition - I'm just coming at it from the perspective of a would-be hoaxer. Celine Dion is another Canadian with a global presence whose rumoured passing would mobilize media from Manhattan to Melbourne, as opposed to Gordon Lightfoot, whose reported demise created shockwaves from Markham to Maniwaki.
Another classically Canadian element in the Gordon Lightfoot death hoax is that it was perpetrated on Ronnie Hawkins, who's even more obscure than Lightfoot, and says he received a call from someone claiming to be Lightfoot's grandson, telling him Lightfoot had died. Who plans something like that, and how does the conversation go?
"OK, here's what we do. We call Ronnie Hawkins and tell him Gordon Lightfoot is dead. If anybody's gonna get the word out, it's the Hawk, 'specially if he's been drinkin'."
I'm no propagandist or fomenter of social unrest, but if I'm trying to generate false but interesting publicity, that's not even Plan C.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

NOT ENOUGH GAELIC AT OPENING CEREMONIES

As an 8th generation Canadian of mixed Irish-Scottish descent, I'm appalled and insulted at the lack of Gaelic in the opening ceremonies at the Winter Olympics in Vancouver.
Don't even get me started on "British" Columbia. Samuel Bird and Angus or Dougal or whatever-his-name-was MacFarlane came to this country to get away from all things British. That 200 years later, their put-upon descendants have to endure the King's English ad nauseam during a ceremony that's supposed to represent Canadians of all cultural backgrounds would put my shorts in a knot, were I wearing shorts under my kilt. Unless it happened while I was in the bathroom throwing up homemade whiskey and haggis, the opening ceremonies concluded without a single piper's lament or sheep buggering, and that's just wrong.
Not that I would recognize a Gaelic word or tradition if someone hit me over the head with a shillelagh, but that's not the point. The point is I want something to complain about, too, and as a white Anglo Saxon Protestant male of middle class standing, my opportunities to wallow in self-perceived martyrdom are virtually non-existent. It's not easy to claim persecution when your genetic makeup and gender suggest a historical position of privilege. How do I stick it to the man when I'm the man?
So that's all I've got - not enough Gaelic at the Olympics. Don't forget to check in next month when I piss and moan on behalf of my African-Canadian brothers and sisters about the dearth of Swahili at the St. Patrick's Day parade.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

MONDAY MORNING MUSINGS

The festival of second-guessing that followed Canada's seventh place finish in men's hockey at the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin focused in large part on the exclusion of Sidney Crosby from the Canadian roster. Team Canada decided to go with more experienced hands and leave the 19 year old Crosby at home, even though he was already establishing his credentials as an impact player at the NHL level en route to a 102 point rookie season.
If there was a lesson to be learned from Crosby's omission, it was lost on the architects of Team Canada 2010, who've decided to take a pass on Steven Stamkos, another former number one overall draft choice who didn't match Crosby's rookie numbers but is having a breakthrough sophomore season with 34 goals and 68 points in 60 games.
Impact players are impact players, regardless of age and international experience.

- It's not necessarily an Olympic harbinger, but neither does it bode well that Canada's consensus number one goaltender, Martin Brodeur, was chased by four goals on 22 shots in his final NHL game before heading to Vancouver.

- Is there anything more gratifying than seeing a dope smoking, window-smashing, balaclava-wearing anti-Olympics protestor brought down by a rubber truncheon? Democratic tradition allows for and even encourages dissent, but last time I checked, damaging public and private property and ignoring repeated police orders to disperse weren't enshrined in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

- P.K. Subban reminds me of a young Chris Chelios. No pressure, though.

- I haven't seen every goal scored in the NHL this season, but of the ones I've seen, this end-to-end effort by Florida's Stephen Weiss is the prettiest, and all the more impressive in that he undressed perennial All Star and reigning Norris Trophy holder Zdeno Chara.

- Scott Hartnell looks like Bernadette Peters without the big tits.

- Is the Daytona 500 over yet?

PODIUM SHMODIUM

New Gazette blog: Own the podium? Let's start with find the podium and take it from there

Saturday, February 13, 2010

HAITI AND VALENTINE'S DAY

Awfully decent of Quincy Jones to rally his closest superstar friends 'round the microphone for earthquake relief in Haiti, but let's be honest: the remake of "We Are the World" that debuted at the opening ceremonies for the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics was a shameless exercise in self-indulgent puffery calculated to enhance the public image of the artists involved while assuaging whatever guilt might linger on what's left of their conscience for their exaggerated station in the human hierarchy.
If that comes off as bitter and cynical, riddle me this: where were the same artists when Haiti was already a poverty-stricken, crime-ridden shithole that consistently ranked near the bottom of the United Nations Human Development Index? It's not like Haitians couldn't have used some help before the earthquake. It's all well and good for Celine, Pink, Snoop Dogg et al to come together for earthquake relief, but like it or not, the underlying theme is tantamount to "Help Haiti rebuild its shantytowns."
Which brings is to Valentine's Day (how's that for a non-sequiter?). Just as anyone who really cares about the people in Haiti had already done their part by contributing time and/or money to established non-governmental organizations that help disadvantaged people in the Third World, the dedicated spouse/partner doesn't wait for a designated holiday to demonstrate their love and affection. Want to show your wife you love her? Forget February 14th. Surprise her with flowers on a non-descript weekday morning in November. If you've just had a spat, so much the better. If my experience is anything to go by, honest amends with a gift attached equals instant forgiveness, although the value of the gift should correspond with the nature of the transgression. (N.B. - there is no gift valuable enough to atone for infidelity. If jewelry, designer clothing, high end cars and expensive vacations can smooth over a bout of adultery, be advised you're married to a whore.)
If you want to keep your marriage dull and predictable, by all means celebrate Valentine's Day, and marvel at the irony that the one holiday of the year devoted exclusively to romance is completely devoid of spontaneity.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

DUDE, IT'S A TIGER

I'm not entirely insensitive to the fundamental tragedy of Norman Buwalda's death. The 66 year old London, Ontario-area man, who was fatally mauled by his pet tiger last weekend, was by all accounts a successful, big-hearted, well-liked local businessman with friends and family members who deeply mourn his passing.
But dude, it's a tiger.
I have a pair of housecats who occasionally bare their claws if the dog isn't giving them their space or if one of the kids becomes overly affectionate. They've even been known to sit in ambush on countertops and give me a surprise smack if they feel I've been negligent in keeping their accessible food supply sufficiently topped up. However, a glancing blow from an otherwise benign furball is one thing. Incurring the wrath of a 500 pound carnivore whose predictability and potential for domestication are both spotty at best is something else entirely.
I love the beauty and majesty of the genus Panthera, and if I had more money than brains and lived on a big property, I could see the attraction in keeping a tiger. But my respect for their place in the nature of things and a healthy fear of the dangers posed by species with a documented history of killing and eating people outweighs any appeal that exotic pet ownership might hold for my ego.
To summarize, I don't jump out of a plane without a parachute, I don't use a blow torch to loosen the screw top on my propane tank, I don't eat uncooked pork and I don't have a pet tiger. None of that qualifies me for Mensa membership. It's just common sense. And if...OW!
Time to feed the cats.

P.S. There are exceptions to the general rule that domesticated animals are harmless. Click here for Pinky the psychotic cat.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

WHAT WAS I THINKING?

Next time I quit my job, remind me to hold off for five months.
Could there be three worse months to be idle than January, February and March? Even if the weather starts to turn next month, all that means is that I'll be able to spend more time outside stepping in dog shit.
What was I thinking?
June 1st - now THERE'S a day to stick it to the man. I could have spent the past six weeks bicycling beside the lake, rollerblading on the Lachine and/or Soulange canal(s) and enjoying cold beverages at trendy sidewalk cafes while watching the inevitable steady parade of beautiful Montreal women pass by. I could spend the next six weeks lounging poolside at the Baie d'Urfe Aquatic Club, doing crossword puzzles and reading hardcover military history tomes in between flirting with yummy mummies and creeping out 17 year old lifeguards. I'd even have a tan, which may seem presumptuous coming from an 8th generation Irish-Scottish redhead, but when I've got the time to work on it, even I can morph from emergency room scarlet to a semblance of golden brown.
But no, I had to get all principled and walk the plank when it was morally the right time. My reward - besides the respect and admiration of colleagues who are similarly disillusioned but not crazy enough to quit - is being stuck in the house with my two year old daughter, whom I love dearly but with whom I would rather bond at Dairy Queen than over whichever stale crackers are left in the pantry.
Oh, I know I could always "embrace" winter. After all, we're hardy Canadians. We thrive in this climate. It's a big part of what makes us who we are. I bought that line of thinking right up until I was about 35, when I started to understand why people who could afford to went south for the winter. If you want to ski and snowshoe and skate, Godspeed. I envy your commitment to making the best of the worst time of the year, meteorologically speaking.
Captain Scott tried to embrace it. Look where it got him.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

MONDAY MORNING MUSINGS

I guess the NFL didn't get the memo from the programming and consulting geniuses that it's time to "skew younger." Even though only two of the original four members are still alive and both of them are in their 60's, the Who kicked big-time ass on the Super Bowl halftime show, in keeping with a recent run of classic rock Super Bowl acts including Bruce Springsteen, the Rolling Stones, Paul McCartney and Tom Petty. There's a reason those performers are still relevant - it's called artistic excellence, something that's entirely foreign to de facto bureaucrats who rely on "demographic trends" when they (mistakenly) decide what the audience wants

-A New Orleans victory was the only possible happy ending to Super Bowl XLIV. The Saints have been NFL doormats for so much of their 43 year existence and the memory of what Hurricane Katrina did to New Orleans in 2005 is fresh enough that only the most dedicated Indianapolis fans could in good conscience have hoped for any other result.

-The Saints' onside kick to start the second half was one of the gutsiest and most inspired coaching calls in recent Super Bowl memory. Of course, if the Colts had recovered, it would have been one of the dumbest.

-Is there a bigger waste of air time than having a "panel of experts" weigh in with their pre-Super Bowl predictions on the final score? If I want random conjecture, I'll read Nostradamus or the Book of Revelations.

-Sidney Crosby vs. Alex Ovechkin - why are we still even having this debate? Presumably, it's because Ovechkin hasn't won a Stanley Cup. Whatever. He's Rocket Richard with a Russian accent.

-Anybody besides me think Kelly Hrudey looked massively hung over on Hockey Night in Canada Saturday afternoon? A friend of mine who works in TV says the camera never lies if you've been out the night before, presumably because no amount of makeup can disguise puffy and sweaty.

Best Super Bowl commercial: Casual Friday.

Second best Super Bowl commercial: Punxsutawney Polamalu.

Best Super Bowl commercial ever: Terry Tate, Office Linebacker.

Friday, February 5, 2010

FOOTBALL WIDOWS AND E-BAY WIDOWERS

I don't want to hear one, single, cliched word about football widows on Super Bowl Sunday, and I won't hear it around my house, because we have an understanding.
We also have seven televisions separated by three floors so as to avoid any conflict between fans of football, Lost and Hannah Montana, but it's the understanding that's important. Watching hockey is part of my job (when I have a job), and my wife accepts that. She'd accept it whether I was a sportscaster, a coal miner or a lint picker because:

a. I'm a man
b. I'm breathing.
c. It's football.

Besides, she's no more a football widow than I'm an e-Bay widower - a claim I could readily make because:

a. she's a woman.
b. she's stylish.
c. they have high-end handbags on e-Bay.

We even have together time in front of the television and computer to learn from each other. She can tell the difference between a clip and a chop block and I know a Mark Jacobs Stella from a Fendi baguette, even if I can't afford either because I'm already heavily in hawk for televisions.
What I'm trying to say here is that so-called football widows could spare themselves a lot of grief by accepting their husbands' passion, even if they don't embrace it. And fellas, there's nothing like a Louis Vuitton Papillion to comfort the grieving widow.

GAZETTE BLOG

Please read my latest Gazette blog "Crime Pays, but You Get What You Pay For."

Back here tomorrow with "Super Bowl Widows and E-Bay Widowers."

TB

Thursday, February 4, 2010

KOMISAREK: THE ONE THAT (WE'RE GLAD) GOT AWAY

It started out with so much promise.
When the Montreal Canadiens drafted Mike Komisarek in the first round, seventh overall, in 2001, the numbers alone were worth getting excited about: 6 foot 4, 245 pounds. The Canadiens hadn't had a defenceman of those proportions and that highly touted since, well, forever. The guy made Larry Robinson look like Skinny Minnie Miller.
Komisarek progressed up the hockey ladder from the University of Michigan Wolverines to the Hamilton Bulldogs on his way to becoming one half of the Canadiens' top defensive pairing, alongside Andrei Markov. He was a fearless shot blocker and a punishing body checker who drew favorable comparisons to Scott Stevens as the prototype physical defensive defenceman of his generation.
Then he ran afoul of Milan Lucic, and everything changed.
Komisarek hasn't been the same player since November 13, 2008 when he lost one of the most one-sided fights involving the Canadiens and Bruins since Stan Jonathan's epic mauling of Pierre Bouchard in 1978. Whether it was the lingering effects of a shoulder injury he suffered in the fight, shattered confidence, or a combination of the two, Komisarek struggled through the remainder of his final season with the Canadiens, and his departure as an unrestricted free agent last summer was met with little if any of the collective angst generated by the departures of Alex Kovalev and - to a lesser extent - Saku Koivu.
Komisarek got a nice deal in Toronto - 22.5 million dollars over five years - and as much as it's considered high treason in these parts to sign with the hated Leafs, I believe most reasonably-minded Canadiens fans probably wished him well, because he played hard for the Habs and is by all accounts a decent guy.
Sadly for Komisarek, things have gone from bad to worse. He is chief among the underachievers on a hugely disappointing Toronto team, and his misfortune peaked this week with the announcement that Komisarek will undergo season-ending surgery on that same shoulder that hasn't been right since he got his lunch handed to him by Lucic.
Hal Gill and Paul Mara might not be Bobby Orr and Paul Coffey, but they're relatively healthy (Mara's day-to-day - upper body), and the two of them combined don't represent as big a salary cap hit as Komisarek alone would have if the Canadiens had met his price.
Sometimes, the best free agent signings are the ones you DON'T make.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

BOYS WILL BE BOYS, SOMETIMES TWO OR THREE TIMES A DAY

Secure the skin moisturizer and restock the Kleenex supply: there's a masturbatory storm brewing on the horizon. (Didn't I say I would write about something that the Gazette blog probably wouldn't touch?)
I have two boys aged 8 and 10, meaning that within the next year or so and for the subsequent eight to ten years - and that's a conservative estimate - there's going to be a whole lot of self-pleasuring going on. It also means my wife and I are going to have to decide what to do about the Internet.
Back in my doodle-yanking heyday, we didn't have a vast and varied on-line fantasy world at our busy little fingertips. We had to use our imagination. If we wanted to enhance the experience, our options were pretty much limited to the women's underwear section in the Eaton's catalogue or the occasional racy album cover (my personal favorite was Whipped Cream and Other Delights by Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass.) This required an element of stealth, as no teenaged boy I know of who came of age in the 1960s and/or 70s ever produced a plausible answer when their mother asked them why they were going to the bathroom with a department store catalogue or an LP jacket. My Dad never asked. He knew the score.
Sometimes, Christmas would come early, and I'd find a copy of Playboy or Penthouse in the Old Man's closet.(God, I hope my mother isn't reading this). Compared to the hardcore smut that's so readily available today, Playboy and Penthouse are about as raunchy as Archie comics, but back then they were on the cutting edge of the assault on morality, and represented an adolescent boy's best opportunity for doing some serious wood-buffing with genuine material inspiration.
It's probably a good thing that there was no Internet when my hormones kicked into overdrive. I was busy enough tickling Elmo with little or no visual stimuli. I might have damaged the thing beyond repair in the cyber age.
The greater concern, though, is how the boys are going to interpret what they see on the Internet. I'll always remember and be grateful for my parents explaining to me that pornography was not an accurate representation of a healthy and loving sexual relationship, and their comments were based on material that was arguably artistic by comparison to what's out there today. Will common sense prevail, or do I have to explain to my kids that bukkake and fetish BDSM aren't part of a normal and healthy sexual relationship? Or is that in itself a moral judgement on my part that could be disputed by bukkake and fetish BDSM enthusiasts?
These are not rhetorical questions. I'm honestly looking for answers. I know there's Net Nanny among other ways of policing your kids on the Internet, but let's face it: they're already more computer savvy than I am, and even if they can't access it at home, they'll access it somewhere else.
If you have children - especially boys - who've gone through adolescence in the Internet era, I'm all ears.
Meanwhile, I have to go to the bathroom with this Fausto Papetti album cover. I'm, uh, trying to learn Italian.

A PERFECT WASTE OF GOOD PIE

New Gazette blog: A Perfect Waste of Good Pie. Back here tonight with some stuff they probably wouldn't let me say on the Gazette blog.

Monday, February 1, 2010

WHERE DO I SIGN UP FOR THE SENATE?

Please click here for my latest Montreal Gazette blog - "Where do I sign up for the Senate?" Tell your friends. Thanks.