Thursday, October 13, 2016

Plus/Minus: Doctor, Doctor, give me the news

In case you missed the news, someone identifying himself only as Dr. CK took out a full-page ad in the Montreal Gazette today to publish a letter expressing how sad he was that P.K. Subban isn't a Canadien anymore. (We don't know Dr. CK’s gender, and I hate to make assumptions, but let's be real he's probably a dude. I don't know many women who'd part with that much money just to not be a fan of their favourite team. I do, however, know some male politicians who'd spend stacks of money on "investigative commissions" and gazebos and at least one male NHL GM who thought Scott Gomez was worth nine million American dollars. Sorry, gents, but I'm pinning this one on you.) If you haven't read it, here's a quick summary: "Dear P.K., you are an awesome player and a good dude and I miss you already. You deserved to wear the CH for your entire career like so many legends who came before you. Also, I'm assuming you are still a loyal reader of the Montreal Gazette. Dear people who traded P.K., I'm super mad at you and we're not friends anymore. Like, I'm not even going to open my envelope of season tickets. So I took out this full-page ad because I thought you'd want to know.”

Now, I'm still very upset about the trade. I haven't written here since it happened. I spent the summer contemplating backup NHL teams and/or a sleep schedule that would allow me to watch a full night's worth of NBA games and still wake up in time for work the next day. I did not, however, spend a ton of money to self-publish on the same medium that Lesley Chesterman uses to complain that she had to wait for a table at a popular restaurant.

According to a journalist at CBC, a full-page ad in the Gazette costs around $20 000. Season tickets for 2016-17 start at $1795. The money that Dr. CK is spending to not attend games would fund at least 27 round-trip flights to Nashville for a weekend, or 128 Preds jerseys with #76 on them, or multiples of every item tagged "PK Subban" on Etsy. Or nearly two thousand beers at the Bell Centre. Or 174 tickets to the Montreal Children's Hospital's next fundraiser. Dr. CK spent more money on the Habs this fall than I earned – overall, pre-tax – the year that I started this blog. Was it worth it? Let's break it down.

+ Dr. CK, You're injecting a lot of money into local journalism, and maybe single-handedly saving print media.
+ You inspire hope in young Montrealers who thought they'd have to move to Toronto to make that kind of cash.
+ I mean, at least you already have your tickets to the Habs-Preds game, right?

- You could've just joined Instagram to tell P.K. you miss him.
- By paying for your season tickets and letting them sit in an envelope, you're still giving money to the very team that you no longer want to support, but you aren't getting anything in return.
- You'll just be the latest in an unfortunately long history of potentially embarrassing Habs fans that the rest of us have to answer for. Seriously, Dr. CK, if you've never been on the receiving end of endless insults from some loser Penguins/Leafs/Bruins/Flyers fan who can't let anything go... then maybe you've missed more games than you think.

The Golden State Warriors fanbase is full of people like this, isn’t it? There is truly no escape.

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.