Thursday, June 23, 2016

I didn't watch the NHL Awards this year. I doubt I needed to.

I can't believe we're still talking about this.

Patrick Kane won the Hart Trophy because people voted for him, yes. Because he played hockey and was good at it, yes. He was able to play hockey because his criminal activities did not interfere with his schedule. They very rarely do when a criminal is also a successful athlete. We've seen this from so many athletes, in so many sports, that some people have come to accept it as normal. That a subset of the population exists solely to seek out men who are good at sports and falsely accuse them of crimes. We believe them only when there is video evidence, and even then, continue to question them.

I refuse to believe it is at all possible that so many pro athletes were tragically falsely accused of crimes (everything from shoplifting to battery to sexual assault) and received a mitzvah when the charges were miraculously dropped or they were found not guilty. I refuse to believe that someone with a history of violence and alcohol abuse is always going to be innocent.

If you're wondering why I didn't watch or write about hockey much this season, there's your answer. The sports world has shown me its dark side. And I don't like it. And I will choose how much or how little I want to support it.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Living Legends

2016 has been an especially rough year for celebrity deaths, and I'm not sure any of us really know what to do about losing so many artists whose work shaped our lives. One thing always crosses my mind when we lose a major player. Did I appreciate them enough while they were alive? The answer, unfortunately, is usually no. I didn't get to see the Beastie Boys before MCA passed, and I missed two opportunities to see Prince in the last 11 months. (And how dare I miss the legendary Queen concert at the Forum, before I was even born?)

I'm making it a point to appreciate the incredible musical artists that I get to listen to in my lifetime (and theirs), and I've enlisted a few friends to make their picks as well:

Janelle Monae
When you think about it, it makes perfect sense that Prince worked with Janelle Monae. She's one of the only artists of her generation qualified to pick up Prince's torch. Her sound is timeless and her look is unique - no one wears black and white like she does. (Seriously, I once saw a woman wearing tuxedo pants and heels, with her hair up and her makeup simple and flawless, and I almost cried because for a second I thought I was in the presence of Janelle Monae and was not prepared. It was not her. I eventually composed myself.) She's also unafraid to be herself, in her music and in real life: songs like "Q.U.E.E.N." prove not only her artistry but her desire to speak up, as a feminist, for what she thinks needs to be talked about:

Find me a protest song even half as funky as "Q.U.E.E.N." I dare you. I'm not even sure that we're worthy of her, but I kind of hope that Janelle Monae lives forever.

Alicia Keys
There are so many artists I could be writing about right now, but I only felt one emotion when I remembered that Alicia Keys would be on Saturday Night Live this week: pure glee. Alicia Keys is the rare artist that not only grows with her music and her listeners, but retains a sound that can be relevant to any age. Imagine hearing "Fallin'" for the first time, in 2016:

You'd think it sounded just as good as it did the day it was released. No wonder legions of American Idol auditioners sang it in the early 2000s. None of them can sing it like Alicia does, though. So much emotion, so much vocal power, just enough vocal power. She was 20 when it was released. TWENTY. That means that we've had the pleasure of seeing her grow through a decade and a half of what can be the most fast-paced years of a person's life. (Yes I know I sound like a Millennial when I say that, but you've probably watched or read your share of coming-of-age stories, so let it go.) She might be Clive Davis' greatest signing since Whitney Houston. There, I said it. Listen to the delicate, masterful vocals on "You Don't Know My Name," then follow it up with the pure honesty and emotion of "If I Ain't Got You" and tell me I'm wrong:

She's also tried to diversify as an artist, and it actually works for her better than it has for most: being married to a hip-hop producer has its perks, like the rhythm-heavy songs that made up her performance at the NBA All-Star Game a couple of years ago, and she may or may not have been the only good thing about the second season of Empire. I'll always love the original Alicia (you know, the one with the braids?) but I love seeing her grow, mature, and evolve, and I hope to get to see her do that for a few more decades.

Bryan Adams: by Shannon Penfound, true Canadian
I grew up listening to Bryan Adams and so his music makes me think back to a simpler time in my life. This song in particular reminds me of my grandparents and how if you find 'that' kind of love, to never, ever let it go.

Britney Spears: by Heather Lynn, recovering hockey fan and lifelong champion of pop music
I think death of the famous can strike in such powerful ways is when we realize they were just a quiet and pleasant hum there all along, and now it has gone quiet and you're left with your own thoughts to consider.

Have you heard the word of the Holy Spearit? For me, Britney has been a constant since she came to me in the formative years of nearly teen pop culture obsession. She emerged on the scene with the template debut album and everything else after that shattered the archetype. I've grown with her and she's grown with me. She's evolved from the vision of the pining and pure devoted love:

 to over the nonsense of boys and just wanting to have her fun:

I measure a pop culture item by moreness. Britney has brought me light, happiness, perseverance and the idea of you better work bitch - more than anyone else. And always remember, if Britney survived 2007, then you can survive today.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

New to Hockey Guy is the hero we need

I know a thing or two about being new to hockey. Or at least I did, a while ago, back when hockey was like a new TV show for me that hadn't jumped the shark and started recycling plotlines. (I mean, come on, NHL. I might as well start watching Grey's Anatomy again.)

It kind of felt like my hockey fandom needed a boost; something even bigger than an average playoff game could give me. Enter New to Hockey Guy, who had never watched the sport before and immediately took to it:

I've been finding it easy lately to be jaded about the sport that I'm supposed to love, regardless of whether or not it loves me back. (My visual album, "I don't know who this dude kane is but we gotta stop him," drops next month.) Maybe I just need to tap into all those feelings I had when I was really a rookie: the excitement, the desire to watch every second of hockey I could, the idea that watching a game can make me feel like I'm part of something.

Maybe we all need to get those feelings back, and let ourselves love the game for all the joy and excitement it brings.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

I Solved The Habs' Coaching Problem

Okay, so at first I meant this as a joke on Twitter, but the more I think about it, the more I think it should happen.
(Oh, crap, that’s what Donald Trump said about politics, isn’t it?)

The Canadiens already announced that they aren’t firing Michel Therrien this season. Not that they should now, anyway, because that would make as much sense as pulling a goalie at the very end of a game in an attempt to score two goals against a stronger team and force overtime – you know, like Therrien did on Saturday. But it looks like the Habs want to keep Therrien around for another year, and I’m probably not the only one who sees another potential team collapse or maybe another midseason coaching change. (Again, Randy Cunneyworth, I’m really sorry, dude.) I know that all of this is hard on Marc Bergevin – I can see it. A few more years of this and he’ll be aging faster than anyone should when they’re as rich as he is. No one wants to see their GM turn into that lemon you forgot you had in your fridge. But if he keeps getting stuck between the angry villagers (us) and whoever isn’t letting him fire Therrien (the Illuminati?), he may just turn into that lemon. (As a sidenote: throw that lemon in your compost pile. It’s not good anymore.)

What Bergevin should be doing is planning to spend the summer with Geoff Molson, luring prospective coaches by taking them golfing or fishing or sampling local beers and then not charging them twelve dollars for those beers. But he probably feels bad firing someone, as would I, because Millennials understand what it’s like to have a shitty job situation. (Though I do wonder how Therrien would fare working in a call center or washing dishes at a trendy restaurant.) And that’s exactly why I think Bergevin should be saved from having to fire Therrien.

TVA Sports should offer Therrien a job and pay him so much money that he won’t be able to refuse.

Think about it. It would work out for everyone – TVA Sports will continue their tradition of overpaying for onscreen talent (with the priceless exception of Dave Morrisette), they’ll add another big name to their roster, and they can use him for insider info. It’ll be good for ratings, which they probably need now that there won’t be any playoff games to profit from. All the people whose love for hockey has waned slightly (hi) will start watching again with a renewed faith in their team. If TVA Sports saved my team from Michel Therrien, I would gladly watch their subpar game broadcasts and even try to pretend that I didn’t miss Pierre Houde. As for the people who don’t want Therrien gone (of which I assume there are still quite a few), they’ll tune in to see him talk about the team and how he would coach them differently. TVA Sports can paint him as a victim, a brilliant man who had no choice but to escape a bad situation. “He’s so wise!” they’ll say. “He should never have been fired,” even though he was never technically fired. Everyone will get what they want – including Michel Therrien, who can buy as many movie gangster suits as he wants with all his TV money.

Help us, TVA Sports. You’re our only hope.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

"Tries hard, needs to produce more on the ice"

I haven’t written as much as I intended to this season. (That much should be obvious.) I could blame it on my schedule, my increased fatigue due to minor health stuff (which is the same thing that slowed me down a couple of years ago, eventually leading to the demise of my Plus Minus column), or the slow, inevitable decline of my Macbook. All of those are legit reasons (except for the Macbook, because I’m probably to blame for its decline. I was not kind to its battery. I should have done better. I’m a terrible laptop mother. Let’s move on.) But one of the reasons why I haven’t been writing about hockey is that in order to be writing about hockey regularly, I’d have to be watching hockey regularly, and I’ve been watching fewer and fewer games and SportsCentres.

The sport, and the culture surrounding it, have lost a bit of their luster. The newfangled major hockey broadcasts, with their oversized ice-blue sets and laughable analysts (#NotAllAnalysts), just don’t do it for me. It’s like watching a show long after it’s jumped the shark – I still watch, but sometimes it’s a little more painful than I’d like. Hockey culture, among fans, journalists, and players, has disappointed me this year. There were some incredible highs, but the lows just sucked. (If one more man tries to tell me how to feel about the charges brought against Patrick Kane, I’ll… maybe I shouldn’t finish that sentence, because I’m not an elite athlete and anything I do will most certainly have consequences.) It’s been hard to love a sport where the bad gets worse and the good rarely gets better. It’s kind of no fun to not really care that the Habs are on a losing streak even though everyone’s screaming about it as if the sky is falling, as if the team’s MVP is not on IR, as if the players themselves are not people. Sometimes I don’t know what to do or what to write about.

But I guess you can say that about anything, right? Every musical genre had at least one horrible hit song this year. (So many unnecessary throwbacks to the early-to-mid-2000s. So many.) Every TV network had hits and misses. Every stand-up comic had the kind of performance that made them wish they had stayed home. (Or maybe it was just me.)

So I will try to focus on the good that happened this year. On the female hockey players who are finally starting to get the respect, attention, and remuneration they deserve. Or on Spider-Mable, the little cancer patient in Edmonton who rescued some Oilers players from the clutches of an evil villain. Or Mike Condon doing his best to continue earning the NHL ice time he worked so hard for. Or the incredible progress that Max Pacioretty has made, that led him to become captain of the Montreal Canadiens. Or the rest of the world finally realizing that Carey Price is one of the best hockey players on Earth and don’t you deny it. Or the drive, on and off the ice, that makes PK Subban superhuman. Or the enduring legacy left by men like Dickie Moore.
Hockey isn’t all bad. 2015 wasn’t all bad. Let’s focus on what’s good, and work on whatever needs improving, and maybe the hockey world will be a little better for it by this time next year.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

What I'd Name My Fantasy Hockey Team, If I Joined a Hockey Pool This Year

Not Tone Deaf

Bunch of Rape Apologists

Voluntary Deportation

Guys Who Need Better Mental Health Professionals

How To Get Away With... okay well maybe a hockey player has never murdered anyone, but the way things are going, let's not count our chickens before they hatch

But They're Nice Guys!

What Happened to "Innocent Until Proven Guil... ajlhwkjhtiuergbkgcbuyrwtbeyu

Listen, They're Really Good at Hockey Pucks, ok

Why Can't My Team Just Be PK, Price, and Pacioretty? No, like, why?

Better Than NFL Players*

Gary Bettman Cares

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Things I'm Too Polite To Tell You At Your Baby Shower

I hope you love your baby as much as I love "Uptown Funk": fully, shamelessly, even if it makes you uncool.

I hope you love your baby as much as I love Beyonce's cover of "Uptown Funk." She hasn't actually recorded one, but I imagined it, and that counts, right?

I hope you love your baby as much as Beyonce loves Blue Ivy.

I hope you love your baby as much as I love Blue Ivy.

I hope you love your baby more than I loved turning my concert ticket money into "piece of fuzzy cloth with a face on it" money.

I hope you love your baby as much as I love being able to drink wine right now. Seriously. This unoaked Chardonnay. You have no idea. I'm going to try pairing it with sushi. I don't know whether or not they'll pair nicely, but how great is sushi? So delicious.

I love you love your baby as much as you love Pinterest.

I hope you love your baby as much as I love going to parties that serve no purpose other than to give you gifts. The baby industrial complex is REAL.

I hope you love your baby as much as I am going to love asking you to buy me things when I have a baby. Even if it's just a toy baby like in American Sniper. You'll throw me a toy baby shower, right?

I hope you love your baby as much as I loved buying a dozen grey onesies for your baby, just like you asked.

I hope you love your baby enough to eventually introduce it to colour, like it's living in The Wizard of Oz or something. I hope you consider synching your labour to some Pink Floyd songs. It'll totally line up.

I hope you love your baby enough to never make it watch that Oz movie with James Franco, but that you also love it enough to teach it about patriarchy and that white men are liars who ruin stuff (just like the Wizard, or Sam Raimi.)

I hope you love your baby so much that you forgive it for being the reason you pooped in front of doctors during childbirth.

I hope you love your baby. Because I do, but not enough to change its diapers. Hope that's okay.