Thursday, December 26, 2013

Extremely Obvious Advice

So, the World Juniors have started and it's the most wonderful time of the year because we all get to break out our Canada jerseys (or other jerseys, that's cool too.) And we'll get to do it all over again in a few weeks when the Olympics start.

This morning, Canada played Germany. One person I follow on Twitter decided to outright mention Nazism. Yes, because German hockey players in 2013 immediately call to mind the Third Reich. His tweet has since been deleted ("because, you know"*), so I'll do him the courtesy of not mentioning him by name or posting screenshots, but I'm going to sub-blog him anyway.

There's no denying that what happened before and during World War II was horrifying, hateful and beyond inhumane. It's a very dark period in German history that no normal human being is proud of. In case that wasn't obvious before, let me make it obvious now. I went to Germany five years ago. I have friends there. What happened decades ago doesn't represent what the country, or any of my friends are like now. They're so ashamed of that part of their history that they're afraid to express pride in their own country, save for a bit of patriotism during the Olympics or the World Cup, for fear of looking too much like Germans under a certain dictator in the 1930s and 40s. They're not responsible for what happened then, but because of it, they're apparently not supposed to love their country like I love Canada. And they're great people - modern Germany is friendly, interesting, and more than a little bit similar to North America.

So here's an idea: let's all maybe not assume that countries as a whole haven't evolved, or immediately call to mind the worst parts of their history when discussing sports. (This goes for all countries.) Let's stick to laughing at their bad pop songs or embarrassing goals, instead of jumping to conclusions about what their grandparents or great-grandparents were like. Okay? Okay.

*I'm assuming that "because, you know" is shorthand for "I said something racist and should not have clicked the Send button"

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Plus/Minus is ready for Christmas break

The Habs, man. Like, what even? Seriously? I can't with them. They render me incapable of expressing myself in anything other than Internet platitudes. So let's just try and Plus/Minus the last couple of weeks while we get ready for the holidays:

+ The Charlie Coyle moment that everyone loved, and reminded me why I love hockey:
+ Excellent work, Alex Galchenyuk.
+ 2 Max Pacioretty, not only for scoring, but also for bringing back his sword goal celly. Oddly appropriate for our very own Black Knight.
+ Beyoncé releasing a surprise album warrants a Plus all its own. Always Beyoncé.

- I'm not sure if Gorges and Gally look more like lumberjacks or truck drivers or both. Share your suggestions in the comments.
- But, like, Daniel Briere, do you play hockey?
- I hate to see Josh Harding on IR, and I wish him the best. He's a hell of a player and I hope he gets to play a whole lot more.
- Thing that actually happened: Tyler Bozak referring to "We Can't Stop" - the Miley Cyrus song about the saddest drug addict party ever - as "upbeat" and fun to listen to after a win. This is why people hate Toronto.
- I remember a variety show I was in in fifth grade, one girl thought it would be funny to play a "sign language interpreter" and just flail all over the place. It wasn't funny then, and it isn't funny now.

Get some rest, Habs, and have some eggnog or something while you all make fun of Toronto and their Miley Cyrus song.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Observations from someone who left a Habs game early

I was vastly disappointed by the result of last night's hockey match between the Canadiens of Montreal and the Kings of Los Angeles. First of all, I expected something much more regal and understated, and more in line with the Kings' team name. I have dined with several kings, you see, and I found them to be much calmer in demeanour and smaller in stature than the boorish athletes I saw on the ice wearing synthetic fabrics.

I did not pay very much to sit a few rows behind the glass at the Bell Centre, which is a terrible name for a public place since it bears the name of but a lowly inventor, rather than a great horseman or perhaps a duke. I thought that I would partake in the watching of this sport, despite its popularity with the working classes. I can understand why citizens of lower classes enjoy such events, as the tickets cost a pittance! Beverages were sold at a very low cost as well, though that is to be expected as they were served in plastic cups. I did not care for the easy availability of alcoholic beverages, nor for the noise level that was unnaturally high for a crowd of so many thousands. I was very fortunate to have been warned of this by my footman, and prepared myself by asking my manservant to fetch my mink earplugs before I left my manse.

I noticed that every time the Kings of Los Angeles inserted the rubber disk into the cordoned-off area behind the keeper, the people inhabiting the seats in my row grew discouraged. It was not until the Canadiens' leader - I believe they call him a coach, though I saw no horses - chose to relieve the keeper of his duties, that I understood. This young man had not done his job properly, and as such was soon met with unemployment. The same very nearly happened when I watched one of my good friends fire his stable boy after a particularly loud sneeze. I was shocked at such a public display. Why, my crystal monocle nearly fell out of my eye! Such a fortunate stroke of luck that it did not, as it would likely have landed on the floor, or worse, on someone's denim pantaloons. Can you imagine? What a horrible thought.

It was also quite disappointing that the moving players on the Canadiens' squad were unable to allow their disks to reach the cordoned-off area behind the keeper. I expected them to be able to do this, as the Kings of Los Angeles were capable of this feat more than once. Ultimately, I began to lose patience and thought my time would be better spent elsewhere, as this hockey squad was unable to acknowledge the honour of my presence. They probably assumed that their amphitheatre was filled with people whose income is smaller than theirs, and not noblemen such as I. In order to avoid further disrespect on the part of this hockey squad, I thought it best to return to my manse and enjoy the rest of the evening sipping my finest brandy in the presence of my string quartet. I shan't be returning to the Bell Centre, as the quality of the entertainment was even lesser than the puny cost of admission.

I have learned my lesson.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Plus/Minus: All we do is win

I know I haven't written one of these in a couple of weeks. So why not start up again after the Habs have a near-flawless week? ...Am I jinxing them somehow?

+ THAT HIT by Lars Eller. Seeing it in person was something else. I don't even have the right reaction gif to express it.
+ David Desharnais' mustache. It is now a proven fact that mustaches make NHL players better at hockey.
+ Ever since I left on vacation, Max Pacioretty has been some kind of wonderful. (See also: Minus.)
+ Brandon Prust and Travis Moen are suddenly scoring goals, and I am very, very okay with that.
+ Apparently some Scandal fans are upset that the show is basically turning into Alias. I don't see how this is a bad thing.

+ I got to my seat at the Bell Centre on Thursday just in time to observe the moment of silence for Nelson Mandela. Apart from one moron who decided to shout incomprehensibly (and get shushed), the arena was quiet. It was really moving to see the organization - and the fans - pay such respect to a man who changed the world. A moment of silence can be hard to come by in one of the league's loudest arenas, and even at that, it seems like a small tribute to a great man. But I'm so happy that the team chose to take a minute and recognize everything he did in his lifetime.

- Penguins. Bruins. You all are crazy. Stop kicking and punching everyone in the head.
- Now that Max Pacioretty is scoring goals and taking names, lots of people are saying that the people who wanted him traded have been silenced. Who are these people that wanted him traded? And exactly what illicit substances have they been ingesting?
- The Mindy Project is one of the most watchable comedies on network TV. The fact that it's going on hiatus for three months is a crime. The only upside to this is that it'll be replaced by Brooklyn Nine-Nine, one of the other watchable comedies on network TV. Still, I have no idea how this bodes for Mindy in the long term, and I'm concerned that Fox is sinking a show that seems to be in line with what they want to be as a network.

I hope I'm not jinxing them.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

End of the MOnth

Movember has come to a close, and we've got another year of fundraising, talking, and mustache-growing behind us. I'm a little sad to see it go, so I'm using hockey pictures as a coping mechanism. (Most of these pictures were yoinked from the official Canadiens site, because they have the best mustache photographers around.)

Thank you, Daniel Briere, for expressing just how I feel now that Movember is over.

Thank you, Brendan Gallagher, for growing a mustache that makes you look like a cartoon French guy. I'll have your striped shirt, beret, accordion, and baguette ready for next Movember. (For full effect, watch the gifs below on a loop while listening to, I don't know, Flight of the Conchords' "Foux du Fafa" or the French chef's song from The Little Mermaid.)

Thank you, Alexei Emelin, for looking a little bit like Zorro, and reminding us all to be heroes this month.

Thank you, David Desharnais, for looking like a tough guy with that mustache. Hockey fights cancer, indeed.

Thank you, Francis Bouillon, for growing a mustache again, because it still kind of makes you look like you could be in a mariachi band. You also made me feel better about escaping to Mexico for a week this Movember, mostly because I learned the Spanish word for mustache. 

Thank you, Max Pacioretty, for representing what most guys who grew mustaches strived to look like: the perfect middle ground between "stepped out of a vintage photograph" and "still looks good."

Thank you, George Parros, for being in good enough shape to return to the game by Movember. And for only needing about three days to grow a full mustache. And, most of all, for setting such a great example for all Mo Bros and Mo Team Captains.

And, most importantly of all: Thank you to everyone who supported me again this year. Every retweet, every donation, every minute spent and every encouraging word put a smile on my face. You were such a huge help to me, even though I wasn't around for the entire month. I didn't even tell everyone what my fundraising goal was ($400) but you helped me surpass it. At times I felt like my enthusiasm probably started grating on you, but you were there for me nonetheless, and this is a great cause, so it means a lot. I tried to change things up this year and be creative and I was met with so much positivity. It made me feel really good about what I was doing.  

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Vacations and fundraising

There are tons of things I should be doing. But I'm writing instead.

I really should be packing for my upcoming vacation, and maybe writing about how the Habs tend to lose when I'm out of town. (I think that this season may be a reversal of fortune, because they've lost every game I've seen at the Bell Centre. Sigh.)

Instead, I find myself feeling kind of guilty that I'm going on vacation now. Right smack in the middle of Movember, when I should be at work, encouraging my Mo Bros to raise more money and telling them that their mustaches are growing in nicely. I braved the first few days of awkward co-worker Sidney Crosby mustaches, and now I'm going to miss a week of Movember glory! It also means that I can't constantly bug my friends, family, and followers for donations, and spout random bits of health trivia at them whenever I want. But hey, if you want to make a donation while I'm on vacation*, just click on the mustache below:

Movember is as important to me as ever - it has to be, as I become more and more aware of how important it is for the men in my family to be in good health. However, I've been hit with that weird sort of guilt where I want to help everyone all the time, even though I know that I can't. Still, the damage done by Typhoon Haiyan in Asia is too devastating to ignore. So I'm doing my part. I've set up a fundraising effort in association with All Habs, and I'm hoping that friends and hockey fans alike will make a donation if they haven't already. To be perfectly honest, if you don't have that much to donate but you'd like to help one of these causes, I think I prefer that you donate to the typhoon relief effort. Cancer and mental illness are scary, but those who have lost their homes and families need help as soon as possible.

No professional association with this charity.
I chose it after doing some research and thought they were already doing good work
in areas affected by the typhoon.
If you're able to help out financially, that's great. If you can't, please spare some good thoughts or say a prayer for everyone whose lives have been affected by illness or natural disasters. I might be away from my computer, but I'll be hoping that these causes get the help they need.

Okay and yes, I'll be hoping that the Canadiens go on an awesome winning streak. Mo Habs Mo!

Probably much, much fancier than my accommodations.

*hey, that rhymed!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Plus/Minus comes back angry

It's been HOW long since I wrote a Plus/Minus? And I let a basketball game get in the way? Geez. Sorry. I'll try to work on that.
+Thank you, Mikael Bournival, for being the new Brendan Gallagher. (Sorry, Louis Leblanc, but another kid with a French last name stole your thunder.)

+ George Parros is back! And his mustache will be, too!

+ Thank you to the clueless group of people who sat behind me at the Bell Centre during Tuesday's game. You entertained my followers more than I could have on my own. (I know I used to be much more of a rookie than I am now. But there's a limit to my patience.)

+ I know I'm not supposed to like goalies who do everything right and beat the Habs, but Josh Harding was great in his start against Montreal and has had an awesome season so far.

+ Here are my thoughts on recent episodes of Scandal:


- Dear NBC: I want my Parks and Rec. Give me my Parks and Rec.

- Some jerk on sports talk radio apparently thinks that all of the world's evils have come from women trying to break into the sports world. I'm not even going to bother mentioning his name or anything, because who cares. Didn't I already deal with this moron when he called in to The Franchise the last two times I was on?

- So, Semyon Varlamov gets arrested for alleged domestic abuse, and continues to play. Gee, why does the whole "Avalanche goalie hurts wife/girlfriend" narrative sound so familiar? Could it be because Varly's coach did the exact same thing, but most people in the hockey world choose to pay attention to his accomplishments, and sweep his personal crimes under the rug. Roy's anger issues are looked at as yet another of his quirks. It was only problematic when he was basically responsible for that huge on-ice brawl as Remparts coach, because it affected hockey (and was symptomatic of a pretty big problem, one that he might indirectly be to blame for.) The Denver Post claims that Roy is "sticking his neck out" for Varlamov. That's bullshit. Roy isn't taking any risks. He's doing exactly what he thinks is right, which is to ignore the fact that the goalie he's taking such good care of might be a criminal. Roy thinks that this is far, when really it's reprehensible. For some unfortunate reason, people don't care about off-ice violence. Letting Varlamov start games when he should be under investigation, or getting help for whatever issues he may have, just proves that there's a growing culture of indifference towards players' behaviour off the ice. Players aren't seeing any consequences to their actions, even when they need to. If this doesn't stop soon, the NHL will be no better than the NFL.

Stick tap to Wrap Around Curl, who is also angry and disappointed that this league isn't doing anything.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

The Right Way To Mo

Last year, I came down pretty hard on people who didn't want to participate in Movember. This year, I'll try to be nicer.

Gentlemen, if you're on the fence about spending a month growing hair on your upper lip, I have some advice for you: wear your mustache like you wear your team's jersey on a gameday. Have confidence. Do you think that George Parros would rock his mustache if he didn't know how to make it the most glorious mustache on Earth?
Make it work. Don't act like you immediately know you'll look awkward or pervy, and don't think that your mustache can't be controlled. You grew it, and you can keep it in line. Don't be that guy.

You may be asking, "Which guy, exactly?" So I'll tell you. Names have been changed to protect the innocent, so let's just call this guy I know Bart Simpson. Bart participated in Movember a couple of times and hated it, mostly because he was in it solely for the mustache-growing - but his mustache didn't look good. I wouldn't tell him to his face, because that would be rude, but he just didn't know how to have a mustache on his face, and now he doesn't want to take part in this popular men's health initiative. If you ask me, he has no one to blame but himself. All he had to do was make sure that the clothes and hairstyles he wore while he had a mustache didn't make him look a caricature of a poet in the 90's.

I'm not kidding.

Anyway, here are a few things you may want to avoid, as evidenced by my hand-drawn mustaches:

This might be a little bit much.

If you still look like you might be twelve years old, don't try anything that looks too ridiculous. Or anything that looks like a milk mustache.

If you're Lucius Malfoy, stop growing a mustache and also maybe stop being terrible?

Man-bangs and mustaches do not mix, unless you're a Beatle. Which you're probably not. You are, however, welcome to invest in some Sgt. Pepper outfits and give it a real good try.

Do not wear a turtleneck and chain if you have a mustache. There are no exceptions to this.

Keep your mustache in check. Don't let your ego write checks your body can't cash. Yes, I did just steal that from Top Gun, because it's what Pierre McGuire would do. Don't be Pierre McGuire.

So, men of Movember, do whatever you have to. Just be proud of your mustache and all the good work you're doing.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Plus/Minus needs more gravy

Plus/Minus is back! And I, for one, am thankful that I can bring back one of HIHW's oldest features. It was on IR for far too long, and we've got tons of hockey and TV stuff to talk about. Shall we?


+ That goal by Alex Galchenyuk. That. Goal.
+ The outpouring of support for George Parros after his injury was inspiring. Hockey people can be good people, sometimes.
+ Lars Eller and P.K. Subban are picking up points so easily, they almost make me think I can play hockey. (Me, with my clumsy limbs and my complete lack of athleticism.)
+ Joe Thornton had the quote of the year and it's barely even the year yet.
+ Sleepy Hollow might be my favourite new show of the season. It's got a talented, diverse cast, and it's  so scary but I can't help but watch it.
+ Thank you, Fox, for picking up John Mulaney's series after NBC decided not to go ahead with it!

- Guillaume Latendresse isn't even playing in North America, and the Journal de Montréal is still writing cover features about him? Let it go, already. As interested as I am in the life of a North American player in Europe, I've had my fill of stories about Latendresse.
- Daniel Briere, you have one point. ONE. POINT. Are you just biding your time? Because I think most of us would prefer it if you just scored goals and such.
- ABC could have had a major hit in Super Fun Night. But a show that doesn't live up to its potential in addition to being mishandled by its network is just an unfortunate recipe for disaster.
- Once Upon A Time In Wonderland should be my favourite new show of the season. Unfortunately, the pilot was disappointing. The CGI wasn't convincing, there was too much of it, and most of the leads  just aren't engaging enough. I still like the concept, though, so with any luck it'll grow on me, just like Once Upon A Time did.
- This is way late, but a Minus to whoever it was that cancelled Go On. I can't even bring myself to watch Sean Saves The World, and I firmly believe that Go On would've been a great companion to The Michael J. Fox Show. And it has (almost) nothing to do with the fact that both series star good, hockey-loving Canadians.

With any luck, I'll be able to make Plus/Minus a regular feature again this season. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! Have an extra scoop of mashed potatoes for me.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Top 5: Pop Stars as Hockey Teams

It's the first Saturday of the hockey season. Elsewhere, Miley Cyrus, the current queen of controversy, is hosting Saturday Night Live. So, the obvious thing for me to do is make a list of the...

Top 5 Pop Stars That Remind Me Of NHL Teams

The Buffalo Sabres are Miley Cyrus:
 Have you tried understanding Miley Cyrus lately? It's really hard. She (understandably) doesn't want to be thought of as "trashy", but has described her own style as "Chanel meets white trash." She also says that she dresses better than other girls, even when she's wearing uglier clothes than they are. She, like Buffalo, epitomizes that old cliché, "I'm not like other girls." Buffalo, too, is unknowingly trying to simultaneously ignore and glorify its own trashiness. Both got a makeover over the summer. They both try really hard to be tough, but are basically just trying really hard to be Rihanna (who, I suppose, would be the Boston Bruins.)

The Toronto Maple Leafs are Lady Gaga: Been showing us the same stuff for years, but keep trying to convince us that they're the greatest show on Earth, that they're different and better than everyone else. But... come on, now.

The Montreal Canadiens are Britney Spears: Both have been in the public eye for a while, had some career ups and downs, supposedly past their prime but are looking pretty fierce these days.
The Chicago Blackhawks are Beyoncé: Works hard. Plays hard. Runs the world.

The Pittsburgh Penguins are Katy Perry: Beloved by small children and adult men alike. Super eager to show us all their new look, you guys! (It's just a shame that penguins are one of the only animals that Katy didn't name-drop in "Roar," which is so incredibly boring compared to its title.)

You'll notice that no team is Taylor Swift. That is because everyone associates Taylor Swift with singing about her exes, and who complains more about the men they used to love than hockey fans? So, congratulations, we are all Taylor Swift.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Ready to Start

(Because I couldn't call this post "Reflektor," now, could I?)

Tomorrow's the day.
After spending half of 2012 without hockey, and dealing with the consequences of a shortened 2013 season, and being quickly thrown back into offseason mode, we've got our game back.
It's almost like I'm not used to this. It's been two years since I spent September trying to keep up with injuries and training camps and game-day rosters. It's been kind of weird to adapt to something that should be second nature. Maybe it just means that I'm changing as a fan somehow. I guess now that I have a few seasons under my belt, I can't really say that all of this is new to me anymore. It just feels like getting back into old habits. (I'm trying really hard to not make a Sister Act 2 pun here. Really hard.)

I had trouble keeping up with a relatively crazy offseason, especially since I wanted to take advantage of summer as much as I could. Days that would normally be spent hanging on Bob McKenzie's every word were instead spent at festivals or on road trips. (Or at work, too busy to even remember the names of the 29 other GMs in the NHL.)

But it's impossible to be out of hockey mode for long. Right before preseason started, everyone started to feel it. There's a shift that happens. The days start to get crisper, festival season winds down, and Montreal becomes a hockey metropolis again. People wear their Canadiens shirts so often that they have to put their old ones back into rotation, and I do a double-take just to make sure I really did see someone wearing a Kostitsyn or a Latendresse. My Facebook feed is so much more interesting now that people are showing their CH pride again, from the soldiers stationed in other countries playing hockey in their downtime to the friend sporting her colours at college in the US. (She wore a Habs shirt, by the way, to an event where she had to wear something from her "home state" - and since her Quebec pride has been shattered by the Charter for Religious Control And Something-Or-Other, she chose to embrace her hometown team.) I've been looking at the jerseys hanging in my closet, thinking that soon, soon I would get to wear them.

Going to the first preseason game of the year helped me get back into hockey mode. Even the huge condo developments going up around the Bell Centre can't dampen the excitement that I get just being within a few blocks of home ice. It was like reconnecting with a good friend you haven't seen in months - there's so much to catch up on, but it feels like no time has passed at all.

I may not be ready for summer to be over, but I'm itching for the season to start.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Instead of 300 Sandwiches...

The Internet was abuzz today, discussing a blog in which a woman became a message board cliché. In order to get engaged, a girl's boyfriend challenged her to make him 300 sandwiches - and she agreed. So, now, she's basically a sandwich machine, where sandwiches come out in exchange for approval. In one pull-quote from the blog (which I won't link to), the boyfriend literally asks her why she's been awake for fifteen minutes and still hasn't made him a sandwich.

When I heard about this, I immediately had two questions: How much money could I make writing a screenplay about this? And is this how relationships work now?

Because if it is, I've got to start thinking of challenges for my future fiancé. Here's a rough draft:

Give me 150 sports-themed manicures

Answer the phone 300 times when telemarketers call during Habs games or Parks and Rec
Go the Bell Centre and buy me the new issue of Canadiens magazine the day it comes out every month for two years

Keep me up-to-date on all the blogger gossip so I know who's subtweeting who (which you will continue to do during our marriage)

Punch nine Bruins fans on nine separate occasions and don't get arrested
Execute 5 blockbuster trades so the Habs have the kind of starting lineup you'd usually only see at the All-Star Game when Crosby is injured

Make 82 game-day meals that I will request, regardless of whether you even know how to make pasta sauce properly
Make me 60 hand-drawn posters to bring to hockey games that are so hilarious that I might become an Internet celebrity for like a week

Type out 800 tweets for me when I'm tired

Stop changing the channel, we are not watching Coach's Corner at intermission.