Sunday, April 27, 2008

Broken Bodies Bait, It Leaves Less Aftertaste

So, the Thrashers lost. That must be disappointing.

I hadn't really been following them, and I didn't even know that game was today until I got home and turned on the TV; I came across it while flipping through channels, and in those couple of minutes I watched the Thrashers gave up two quick goals on a five-on-three to surrender the lead. Then I flipped to, I don't know, cartoons or something before giving up on the television entirely and wandering off to eat something.

(I'm a fickle sort.)

But in times like these, when I notice I'm only peripherally aware of a locally relevant news story, I know exactly how to approach it: read as many different media outlets as possible and be inwardly tickled by the different approaches to covering the story.

What did, say, the Free Press write about it?

This is truncated, of course, but it continues on like you'd expect from there. It's kind of dry, kind of distant, pretty professional -- you know, the usual tone that the Free Press sticks with. (At least, when it isn't trying to trick us out of our money and cockblock downtown development to protect the scenery of a millionaires' club. "Not In My Back Yard" indeed.)

What did, say, CJOB write about it?

It's okay, CJOB, I understand. I feel your pain! The line about the team 'coming up just short' is almost irresistable, and it would have been a lot funnier if you or I ran the show -- but regretfully, 'midget hockey' isn't actually two teams of midgets bodychecking each other.

I know! Isn't that disappointing? The game is played by teenagers, who are actually about six feet tall or so on average, and the 'midget' title is just an adjective to make folks like you or I giggle slightly and completely fail to treat the game with the proper respect it deserves. So a couple dozen young athletes with big dreams take to the ice to play the game they love, hoping one day to work their way to the big leagues, and we're all like "AW COME ON WHERE ARE THE MIDGETS AT I WAS PROMISED LITTLE PEOPLE".

No, sir, we're not allowed in that arena any more.

Hawksley Workman - Little Tragedies ([Last Night We Were] The Delicious Wolves, 2001)
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Or am I completely alone on this one? Fine, fine. I was using the royal we there, then.

(Midget hockey is also commonly referred to as 'AAA hockey', but that just gets me started into lucha libre jokes and then I lose everybody in the audience.)

What did, say, the Winnipeg Sun write about it? Well, the Winnipeg Sun had almost exactly the same idea, but added on a couple extra layers of probably-accidental dickery:

Do I... do I still vote in the poll? Is that okay?

The poll was the first thing I noticed; I know that they're added daily and left to run for the full twenty-four hours as a matter of procedure, but it's still a weird juxtaposition to leave roaming free in the wild. But that isn't my favourite part of this article, oh no; the second thing I noticed was the Winnipeg Sun spelling the team name as "Trashers".

"Trashers"! Ha ha ha ha oh my god that is so mean! These teenagers of average size (again, not midgets -- and "Midget Cup just out of reach" would have been such a better headline for this story) won fifty-eight out of sixty games, and then when they lose the big one you roll on up like "hey guys more like trashers lol". Way to be a jerk, Winnipeg Sun.

(I hope they never fix that typo. I laugh every time I read that headline.)

So the Winnipeg TraThrashers didn't win the Telus Cup, but they did really well for themselves and represented their city about as well as any other teams around here usually do; they'll feel bad for a while, then they'll feel better about it and move on, and that'll be that. Better luck next year, midget-Thrashers!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

The Stanley Cup Playoff Quarter-Finals Start(ed) Tonight

Okay, okay, I know. These are probably better posted before the first games of the second round are on. Humour me! I'm a busy dude.

Eastern Conference

(1) Montreal Canadiens vs. (6) Philadelphia Flyers

Did I expect both teams to have played seven games by this point? No, sir. No I did not.

Montreal's a fun team, and I'd like to see them move on, but let's just establish right now that I would be perfectly fine with the Flyers advancing here. My affections were largely neutral between them and Washington when the first round started, but the Flyers organization and the Philly fanbase really stepped it up: "VENGEANCE NOW" is the greatest god damn slogan I have seen in years, and if I die tomorrow I want you guys to write that on my tombstone as my epitaph.

Montreal went undefeated against Philadelphia all season, but then again that's what they did against Boston and we know how that turned out. So I'm pretty sure that Montreal will win this series, but I'm also pretty sure that they'll have a couple of really awful games where they give up at least five goals.

And I really enjoy watching the Flyers -- plus come on, "VENGEANCE NOW", seriously -- but really they'd only made it this far because Tom Poti of the Capitals took a force-ten stupid penalty in overtime of Game Seven. (It is a really bad idea to blatantly trip a dude when you are in overtime of Game Seven.) So Montreal may have been lazy and overrated for the last series, and they may still get lazy and overrated for this series, but they'll still pull through regardless.

What I'd Want: Montreal in seven, despite the Flyers bodychecking everything on the ice and their fans sporting "WE HOPE YOU DIE" shirts.
What I'll Guess: Montreal in, say, six.

(2) Pittsburgh Penguins vs. (5) New York Rangers

Man, what the hell, they may has well have given both these teams byes in the first round. Pittsburgh swept Ottawa handily because Ottawa is a collection of morons who made a point of playing the wrong goalie, and New York beat New Jersey handily in five because Martin Brodeur Gerbered it up and forgot how to play hockey. (And hey, nice faceoff, Madden!)

So both teams are pretty well rested, haven't faced too much in the way of adversity yet, and will probably take a little while to get good and fired up. So if solid, tightly-structured defensive hockey is your thing, then you are going to hate this series so hard because there are going to be anywhere from five to eleven goals in all of these games.

What I'd Want: Pittsburgh in five, and Georges Laraque scores at least six points.
What I'll Guess: Pittsburgh in six, but the media spends more time talking about Sean Avery than about Sidney Crosby and Jaromir Jagr combined.

Western Conference

(1) Detroit Red Wings vs. (6) Colorado Avalanche

Yeah, so Forsberg's injured. He made it through a whole series first, though, so I guess I would have lost if anybody had organized a pool on it.

The coach took the news well, of course:

"Obviously, you miss Peter's talent because he attracts a lot of attention from the opposition," Quenneville said. "But we're used to him being in and out of the lineup."

For a statement of support, that's actually quite depressing. "Yeah, he's broken again, but ah well. He's made out of very talented glass."

Anyway. Red Wings and Avalanche! This is always fun to watch, and I'm sure this series will be awesome even though Patrick Roy is now busy being old and watching his son flip a shit and attack people. Between the Jonathan Roy incident and the whole rioting thing, the province of Quebec has as late been making the point that it takes its hockey very seriously.

But I digress!

I wasn't really impressed by Detroit in the first round (you beat Nashville, ooooh), and truthfully I'd like to see half the team retire and get it over with just so the Central division can start getting interesting again. In the meantime, I like Colorado's general character a lot better and I like Colorado's old people more than I like Detroit's old people, so my allegiances are pretty much set on this one.

What I'd Want: Colorado in five, because Detroit winning the President's Trophy and then collapsing is always, always funny.
What I'll Guess: Colorado in seven, because Detroit won last time so now it's Colorado's turn.

(2) San Jose Sharks vs. (5) Dallas Stars

Speaking of old players, holy crap Stu Barnes is still playing hockey. The Winnipeg Jets drafted him when I was five! He's so old he makes me feel old just for having remembered him!

I so rarely get to see games with either of these two teams in them, so I'll probably get a kick out of this series. They're both likeable, legitimate Cup contenders (like Anaheim was until they forgot to stop punching people -- nice discipline, geniuses), full of talent and grit and great expectations -- and they really don't like each other very much after their last game. VENGEANCE NOOWWWWWW

What I'd Want: Tough call! We'll say Sharks in seven.
What I'll Guess: Sharks in five, because it is the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs and Marty Turco is scheduled to be bursting into flames any time now.

New Meanies concert tomorrow! Whoo!

Monday, April 21, 2008

There's a New Meanies Concert on Friday

For serious, you guys! I can't imagine a scenario where I'm not going to this show; I'm a longtime devotee of the group, and at ten bucks or twelve at the door it's a steal of a deal at twice the price. (I love that line.)

They don't play very often any more, so it's good to get out and see them when you can -- and hey, it's Friday night! Live a little! If you find yourself with nothing to do this Friday and you think you can scrounge up a dozen dollars, rest assured that this expenditure will be well worth your investment.

I keep meaning to make a giant all-encompassing New Meanies post, one of these days, but somehow I always end up getting distracted by something and letting it fall by the wayside. And I'm not a guy who distracts easily, so I don't know what ooh hey is that a dime on the floor

Friday, April 18, 2008

It's My Birthday Today

I'm twenty-four! That's pretty old, so I'll probably be dead soon.


Uptown Magazine! Vicious and delicious! You're pretty savvy, so you know what's up.

Smoking is a bad idea, smoking around your children is a bad idea, and smoking around your children while you're also simultaneously operating heavy machinery is a combination of several bad ideas all rolled into one. Hey, grab a few beer while you're in there, too! Clearly you know what's best for your family.

Where was I? Ah, yes. A birthday! I'll need some cake.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Way to Accomplish Nothing, You Guys

Okay, first off, the most important news story of the day is yet another homicide; it wasn't initially labelled a homicide, but when someone turns up overnight on a North End street dead from multiple bullet wounds there are only so many conclusions to be drawn.

(I guess now I'm further behind on the YouTube cataloguing than ever, no thanks to my recent dental surgery swelling my face up to the point of being both unrecognizeable and incomprehensible. If I typed right now the way I've been talking the last week, the third letter of every word would be an F whether I wanted it there or not.)

But while that was the most important story around here, it wasn't technically the biggest. No, sir! For those of you out there who enjoy completely ineffectual announcements, today was definitely a big news day for you!

Alert the media and gather the children; today marked Stephen Harper making a (rare) appearance in Winnipeg, coming from on high to rescue us from the unseemly rash of vehicular lawlessness that torments our city. The major local news outlets were abuzz, their Developing Story and News Update icons blazing bright on their websites: an announcement to be made! Harper expected to address car theft! 2:00 PM this afternoon, be there or be square!

So Harper strides in this afternoon to address the city, a veritable dangerzone ravaged by car theft and underage joyriders, and proudly proclaims that the federal government is combating auto theft by cracking down on... organized crime rings and illegal-parts exporters.

I'm... sorry. What?

No, no -- I'm sure it's a terrific legal advancement, and I'm sure it'll be very warmly received in cities that actually have commercial crime rings or auto-part black markets or oceans to ship things across. But why in the stone hell would you come to Winnipeg to make this announcement?

Gentle readers, perhaps you had heard about this story: in the span of a few hours across late Friday night and early Saturday morning, a pair of underage car thieves attempted to steal twelve (!!) cars out in Portage La Prairie and succeeded in stealing and driving three of them. The police reports indicate that one of the three stolen cars ended up at the bottom of the Assiniboine River, which I guess must be how they were planning to ship it overseas for parts. Since twelve cars is about how many Portage has (har!) and they've all since been accounted for, it's a safe bet that none of these cars were stolen for the purpose of tampering with their VINs and scrapping them for spare bumpers. And those kids that rammed a cop car with a stolen truck? They weren't ramming it; the plan was just to bump it, to scare the cops out of it, and then continue lightly nudging it all the way out to British Columbia so they could get it onto the boat to Hong Kong or wherever the hell these parts are supposedly going.

So, acknowledging Manitoba's 'frustration' with its current situation, what did Prime Minister Stephen Harper unveil as his initiative to counteract the ongoing outbreak of underage car theft that continues to plague Manitoba? Showing the tremendous leadership and vision that places him among the upper echelons of our nation's leaders past and present, he... he, uh... he passively blamed the Youth Criminal Justice Act like everybody else does, claiming that he could do more to help if somebody could just amend that gosh-darn restricting YCJA one of these days.

I feel safer already!

Gary Doer was on hand, and the Free Press has him on record as having 'welcomed the new initiatives', but this can't possibly have been the kind of changes he asked for back in September. Unless he led Katz, Chomiak, McFadyen, Gerrard, Burgess and the rest of his posse into Harper's office that day and demanded that Harper amend the current legal penalties of international parts trafficking, I can't really imagine what Doer was being so supportive about today. Of course, he did have to be there -- the Premier couldn't not show up when the Prime Minister is in town -- but it had to be tough to pretend that this was anything even passingly helpful for the province.

Speaking of the provincial government and ineffectual announcements -- god I love segues like that -- today the Manitoba Liquor Control Commission was busy with its own underwhelming advancements ("Letting people buy two drinks at once and letting minors into beverage rooms will improve safety!"), and the local justice system wasn't accomplishing much either ("Oh, wait, whoops -- we, uh, arrested the wrong guy. Is that okay?").

On a side note, I love the disparity between headlines when the different news outlets report the same story. Free Press headline: "Liquor act changes target safety". Sun headline: "Provincial government introduces new liquor laws". CJOB headline: "More drinks"! Ha! Ah, you crazy funsters.

To the ineffectual sports news! With the Senators down two games to none and heading into Game Three tonight with the Pittsburgh Penguins, Sens Nation (to the extent that such a thing even exists; remember how well that went last year) was buzzing with the big news reports that Daniel Alfredsson could return to the lineup tonight and lead his team past its current woes.

Like everything else this year, you can imagine how this went for them; the game's over now, and Ottawa got shellacked again. Alfredsson had no points on a total of four shots, the Senators are down three games to none, and Martin Gerber has given up four goals every game. That's not meant to be taken as the average, although technically it is correct; I mean Gerber literally gave up four goals in Game One, four goals in Game Two and four goals in Game Three. I'll admit that I'm a Ray Emery booster through and through, but even I can't wait to see how people will try and blame Ray Emery for this one.

"He planted seeds of doubt and madness in Gerber's head that ultimately led to his undoing! It was like Othello, but backwards. I'm serious!"

So, yeah. To sum up, quite the news day today. I sure hope tomorrow's half as interesting!

Grinderman - I Don't Need You (To Set Me Free) (Grinderman, 2007)
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Saturday, April 12, 2008

Classical Gassed

My evening productivity goes completely south this time of year. Three or four hockey games on per night at three hours apiece, each of them equally important and almost all of them interesting, means I don't get much of anything done unless it can be squeezed in during an intermission.

Since Friday was a day off from work for me, I was up the entirety of Thursday night writing an Uptown article and then slept for most of the next day. But had I noticed what was scheduled for that day, and had I been awake, I would have headed downtown -- because Friday was the day classical music lovers across the country gathered outside CBC headquarters to lay out some newfound grievances.

(Hey, photographer, way to focus on the oldest people there. And hey, Free Press, way to bury this story deep in the bowels of the What's On Winnipeg site that nobody reads!)

Morley Walker, himself apparently cordoned to the What's On ghetto, summarised the CBC's woes last week; a couple of days ago the venerable Bill Neville put out a fine piece about the hullabaloo, correctly suggesting that we as taxpayers shouldn't have to pony up for a public radio station if it shadows the same decisions and plays the same music as the existing commercial stations.

The whole situation owes to this patronizing salvo from the Mother Corp, exactly one week after they'd announced that they were firing the CBC Radio Orchestra. As you can imagine, the public response has been overwhelmingly negative; the majority of listeners don't (and won't) give half a hoot about CBC radio at all, and the announcements seemed specifically made to alienate the people that do listen to it.

Also -- at the end of March, between the dismantling of the CBC Orchestra and the public announcement of mistakes things to come, the CBC bought and ran a full-page advertisement in the Globe and Mail (estimated at $30,000) bragging about how record label executives and a handful of artists fully supported the changes to Radio Two that hadn't actually been announced or made yet.

None of this adds up, does it? This is all completely bizarre.

For one thing, it seems completely counterproductive for a radio station to switch away from the one genre that distinguishes it from its competition and attracts its continuing listener base; hell, even the ratings viability of abandoning classical music is entirely questionable. Moses Znaimer has an all-classical music station in Toronto that is absolutely crushing CBC Radio Two in the ratings (5.3 to 1.9); similar all-classical stations are drawing big numbers in Montreal and Gatineau. (Didn't expect Gatineau, did you?)

Ostensibly one of the goals in all of this would be to draw in younger listeners, but that doesn't make sense either. At best it would be a Pyrrhic victory, because A) the CBC seems intent on driving away all their older listeners first, B) kids these days are internet-savvy and a lot of them can't really be bothered with conventional radio, C) people who listen to Hot 103 or whatever are entirely unlikely to switch over to the CBC to begin with, and D) the CBC already killed off almost everything that would appeal to younger audiences (like, say, Brave New Waves) in their last round of unwelcome and poorly received programming overhauls.

Go back to that open letter for a second; you can go over the entire announcement about the future programming of Radio Two and not see Radio 3 mentioned anywhere (or even alluded to!), which should be warning sign number one that most of the artists listed on the Globe and Mail ad have been completely hoodwinked. Enjoy your balkanization, Radio 3!

And that full-page ad with its pledges of support from major-label heads makes me more uncomfortable than anything else; any changes that are good for them will most definitely be bad for us. I don't want my public radio alternative snuggling up to the record execs. Am I expected to believe that the station is going to expose me to exciting and challenging material from smaller bands and obscure artists that I wouldn't have otherwise heard, but it just happens to have the full support of Universal, EMI, Warner and Sony? If they're excited about the upcoming changes, who are the upcoming changes about to benefit?

Oh, and that isn't even the best part. Check out the scheduling they've decided on:

This is untenable horseshit. (The odds are low that Bill Neville or Morley Walker would ever write the words 'untenable horseshit', but mine is a more new-school approach to describing these developments.) I don't know about you, but I'm nowhere near a radio between 10:00 AM and 3:00 PM; I'm at my job, working, and I'd imagine that the majority of workers in this country are also working at that time. And those five hours also just happen to be during the school day, which means the very vast majority of students are also nowhere near a radio.

It's obvious to anybody with a grasp of foreshadowing what their intentions are; their next step will be to cut back on classical music even further, or jettison it entirely, because they'll have new figures to show that classical music is somehow pulling in lower ratings than the newer and more mainstream-friendly programming. Could this be because the seven hours of newer and more mainstream-friendly programming will chew up all the peak driving hours and the classical programming will be nigh inaccessible to almost everyone except the elderly and unemployed? Could this be because the classical music is specifically scheduled against Sounds Like Canada and Radio Noon and Q*, while the newer programming is 'competing' with the same news programs that the listener has already heard completely summarised into five-minute pieces every hour on the hour? OF COURSE NOT IT'S BECAUSE CLASSICAL MUSIC SUCKS SHUT UP AND LISTEN TO YOUR JANN ARDEN

Personally, my understanding of classical music is firmly intermediate at best; I enjoy listening to it, and I know a bit about it, but I'm a million miles away from being an expert on the stuff. I wouldn't be able to tell you the particular significance of Bach's passages inverting the Tenebrae in the Ruht Wohl of his St. John Passion blah blah dick etcetera etcetera, or what have you, but occasionally I can hear something playing and realize that I recognize who wrote it -- and I can spell 'Tchaikovsky' correctly without looking it up first, so I figure I'm doing alright for myself.

So I'm definitely not somebody who would count as a classical music devotee, or a classical music elitist, or even a guy who can tell you much about Robert Schumann except that he let Johannes Brahms move in with him and then Brahms started coveting his wife. But I can say with definite certainty that I would sooner hear all seven Sibelius symphonies (eight counting Kullervo!) in a row than listen to the same ten Canadian-content artists that I can already hear on every other radio station in the city. Winnipeg radio is already enough of a miserable sinkhole as-is! It's bad enough that Radio One just plays some hit singles in between its fluffy chatter about local interest stories; is it entirely necessary for Radio Two to pull the same crap on us while we're driving to work?

We already hear plenty of Jully Black and Kathleen Edwards. Jann Arden has sold over two million albums. Feist is god damn inescapable right now. And I could die a perfectly happy man if I went the rest of my entire life without ever hearing another song by Sloan or Great Big Sea. (Not that I could pull off such a trick, since both bands have songs that are featured prominently in heavy-rotation television advertising -- and during Hockey Night in Canada, no less. Hell, Great Big Sea appears in the commercial!) These are not tiny acts starving for recognition and frozen out of commercial radio; these are label-backed mainstream national and international superstars, and they're stoked about the new CBC programming because the CBC programming is going to be playing them coast to coast at peak listening hours instead of fuddy-duddy string selections for old people by some dead guy.

Those ugly no-hopers like Franz Hayden and Franz Schubert only got airplay for two hundred years because people didn't have GREAT BIG SEA to listen to yet! Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha oh god I'm going to stab my radio.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

The NHL Playoffs Begin Tonight

Well, I'm still a mess. I'm in almost constant pain, my face is all swollen, and Advil comprises about ninety per cent of my meals. On the other hand, hey! Hockey's on! Awesome!

I don't remember doing so well with my predictions last year (and I haven't gone back to check how accurate they were, because pfft, like I claim to know what I'm doing), but it's always fun to give it the ol' college try and see if anything sticks. So!

Eastern Conference

(1) Montreal Canadiens vs. (8) Boston Bruins

Yes, I know. We're all very happy for the Canadiens, aren't we? They seem like nice guys, and it's neat that they finished the season with the highest point total in the East after so few people expected them even to make the playoffs. But how did the Canadiens earn the number one seed in the Eastern Conference? With stellar power-play work, yes; with a solid team ethos, and with a strong work ethic. But they also earned it in large part by beating the tar out of Boston and then continuing to beat on Boston until the tar ran dry and stuffing started flying out instead.

They earned a hundred and four points this year, and sixteen of those were from whooping up on Boston; that's one point out of every six and a half. And if Montreal had instead lost half of their games in the season series against Boston, they'd be entering the playoffs as the sixth seed. So the very real possibility exists that the Canadiens are a touch overrated right now ('Detroit Syndrome', if you prefer), and they may well yet crumble against a lower-seeded team. But they're not going to crumble against this lower-seeded team, because -- hey, look who it is! Hi, Boston! Lucky you guys!

Boston hasn't beat Montreal once this season, or once at all going back more than a full calendar year, and of the eight losses to Montreal this season four of them were by three or more goals. New records for futility are being set even as we speak; years from now Bostonites will speak in hushed tones of the 'Thornton Curse' and lament the Bruins' fate, citing the beginning of the end as when the fans first saw whatever the hell this was and knew then and there that their beloved team was doomed.

And I kind of like Boston! I wouldn't mind seeing lil' Tim Thomas nab a playoff win or two, and I hope that before the series is over we see Marc Savard score something pretty and Zdeno Chara obliterate somebody with a six-foot-nine death check -- but if they were capable of beating the Habs, you would think they'd have won one or two by now. Alas, Boston! You'll have to take solace in of all your other sports teams winning all of their championships.

What I'd Want: Montreal in four, because that's funny.
What I'll Guess: Montreal in five, because by game three they might let their guard down.

(2) Pittsburgh Penguins vs. (7) Ottawa Senators

Hey, Brian Murray! Assuming for the moment that you're right and the Penguins did throw that last game to make sure they'd face your Senators -- can you even blame them? Your team's lost twenty of the last thirty games. You're missing three of your key players, you fired your head coach late in the season, and somehow -- even though Playoff Conklin makes Playoff Turco look like Playoff Cam Ward -- your team still has shoddier goaltending going into this series.

The Senators are still a good team in theory, yes, but theory only ever goes so far this time of year. I wouldn't mind them advancing, if it means Ray Emery gets more screen time, but I've got a hunch that Ottawa is basically sunk on this one.

What I'd Want: Penguins in five, despite Ty Conklin scoring twelve unanswered goals on his own net and Georges Laraque eventually having to punch him unconscious.
What I'll Guess: Penguins in six.

(3) Caroli Washington Capitals vs. (6) Philadelphia Flyers

Philadelphia made it into the playoffs? Washington made it into the playoffs?

At one point this season, Washington was thirtieth in the thirty-team league; now the playoffs are here, the Capitals are seeded third and captain Alexander Ovechkin has scored sixty-five goals (!) and one-hundred and fifteen points (!!) to propel his team into the postseason. There's still a chance that he won't win MVP this year, but only if Evgeni Malkin learns some ninja tricks and makes the Conference Finals using only his team of shadow-clones.

The rest of the team helped, too, of course. They haven't been losing very often at all lately; Huet has won the last nine straight games, and he's only lost two of the thirteen he's played since he was sent to Washington as a bizarre trade deadline surprise.

Since I'm a dude who really likes teams that attack with wild abandon and are too busy checking to ever play defence properly, it's no surprise that I'm always entertained by Philadelphia. And it'd be awesome if they won here, but I'm not holding my breath. Philly, being Philly, is going to find awesome ways to take stupid penalties, and inevitably that's going to sink them without fail -- but they're fun to watch nonetheless. They're like a team of Foghorn Leghorns come to life, belligerent and stupid and hilarious and doomed all at the same time. WHAT I SAY WHAT IN TARNATION ARE THESE PENALTIES FOR BWOI YOU TRYIN TO BUILD YASELF A SIN BIN

What I'd Want: Philadelphia in seven unyielding marathons of inspired violence.
What I'll Guess: Washington in six, and Steve Downie gets himself suspended by the end of game two.

(4) New Jersey Devils vs. (5) New York Rangers

God, I hate the New Jersey Devils. I can't wait for Martin Brodeur to retire and go live off his Delissio cheques so I can watch the entire Devils organization shrivel and die immediately afterwards.

I couldn't care less about the Rangers -- did any Canadian networks even televise Rangers games this year? -- but I would like nothing better than for them to utterly annihilate the Devils, which is precisely why it isn't going to happen and I'm going to grump about it a little.

What I'd Want: New York in four, all of them meanspirited blowouts.
What I'll Guess: New Jersey in six. Damn it.

Western Conference

(1) Detroit Red Wings vs. (8) Nashville Predators

Oh, yeah. People give a crap about this series.

What I'd Want: I CAN'T HEAR THIS SERIES OVER MY OWN YAWNING. I want to see, I don't know, Nashville in seven. For giggles.
What I'll Guess: Detroit in five. I know Detroit historically underperforms come playoff time, but come on, it's Nashville.

(2) San Jose Sharks vs. (7) Calgary Flames

In their last twenty-two games of the season, San Jose went 18-2-2; they have terrific goaltending, several lines of scoring, a trade-deadline acquisition apparently worth his weight in gold, and only two guys on their entire roster who are under six feet tall. (A pair of fourth-line centres, if you were wondering. And they're both 5'11''.) Calgary has a goalie who does really well sometimes, a couple of world-class superstars, and then a long parade of midcarders with a really old guy or two mixed in for variety.

I like Calgary, and I hope they at least go down swinging here, but it doesn't look good for them at all; the Flames are primarily known for their tough and gritty playstyle, but they are going to get the living crap out-gritted of them unless something goes drastically and dramatically wrong for the Sharks.

Calgary's only made it past the first round of the playoffs once in the last, what, twenty years? Well, at least this year they can rest easy knowing that they'll be able to go home and make fun of the Oilers.

What I'd Want: Flames in six.
What I'll Guess: Sharks in five.

(3) Minnesota Wild vs. (6) Colorado Avalanche

Oh, boy, the Wild. Maybe I'll just go to bed.

Colorado's loaded up on all their old faces from their successful days, which is kind of funny and kind of sad at the same time. I like the guys on their team, but at the same time I kind of hope they just retire before they slip and fall or something.

The Wild earned their three-seed, no question, but that doesn't change their history as a remarkably awful playoff team. Remember last year when they were down a goal to the Ducks and got the puck with two minutes left, then sat in their own end and didn't pull the goalie until about twenty seconds were left? That was everything you needed to know about Minnesota condensed into two long minutes of astonishing nothing going on.

Minnesota Wild games are fifty-five minutes of nothing happening and five minutes of Derek Boogaard. I must say that I really love watching Derek Boogaard, because he's so awesomely good at hitting people and yet so awesomely bad at actual hockey -- but something tells me he's not about to get a whole lot of ice time in the playoffs. So that eliminates the one thing I could possibly enjoy watching on the Wild's side of things, and if there's any justice we won't have to humour them for much longer this year.

What I'd Want: Colorado in four, with Derek Boogaard playing fifteen minutes a game and Peter Forsberg somehow not getting injured.
What I'll Guess: Colorado in six, but Forsberg's ankle somehow explodes during the national anthem.

(4) Mighty Ducks of Anaheim Mighty Ducks vs. (5) Dallas Stars

At around the trade deadline these teams were widely considered two of the top Stanley Cup contenders, which is precisely why they have to square off in the first round and send one team home entirely too early. Whoever wins this series is probably going to win their next series handily, and whoever loses this series gets to look forward to half a year of 'rebuilding' threats and quiet frustration.

Dallas looked to be improved dramatically when they brought Brad Richards aboard (and it must be nice for him to have something to do for a change), but so long as Playoff Turco roams their net the Stars are destined for a lifetime of bewilderment and quick playoff exits. But hey, you never know -- maybe one year the NHL will decide to do the playoffs entirely in shootouts, and when that happens it'll be Turco Time. In the meantime, yeah, they're pretty much sunk.

What I'd Want: Anaheim in six.
What I'll Guess: Anaheim in six.

Playoff hockey! Whoo!

Monday, April 07, 2008

Cornering the Market on Cottage Cheese

Hi, folks! I had seven hundred and fifty dollars' worth of dental surgery this morning! And I start at my new job tomorrow, which is apparently a terrible idea because anything that involves leaving my bed for the next three days is not in my best interests! How was your day?

I intend to get in some NHL playoff predictions before the first round begins, like I did last year, but that'll have to wait for now. (Spoilers: Boston dies.) For now, I'm going to be spending most of the rest of the day in bed -- spitting blood, mentally compiling a list of foods that don't require chewing, and setting my alarm clock to alert me whenever I can have more Advil.

Enjoy the weather! It's nice out!

Friday, April 04, 2008

Tom Lukiwski, Pre- and Post-Crisis

A couple of days ago, few if any Canadians outside of Saskatchewan had any idea who Tom Lukiwski is. Bet he misses those days!

It's rare in our day and age to see important or influencial people get themselves into trouble with video footage that predates YouTube, isn't it? Of course, it didn't stay offline for long; you can see the snippet clip that sparked the media frenzy here, with a sarcastic slideshow on either end of the clip because this is the internet, or go here to watch the full twenty-five minutes (!) of footage.

(Dirt under their fingern... the hell does that even mean?)

There are people trying to downplay the video by pointing out that the remarks in question were made seventeen years ago, but come on now -- seventeen years ago means he was fourty years old at the time, and fourty is a hell of an age to not know better by.

Now, I'd happened to come across my good drawing pencils in the basement the other day -- so that's where they were! -- and when you see a man making that big a mental error while wearing that brazen a moustache, well, you can't not draw it:

Ha ha, man, that moustache. I can't possibly do that thing justice.

The opposition is calling for Lukiwski's head, of course -- both because that's what you'd expect them to do given the circumstances and because it worked last time. And the Conservatives are insisting that they have no intention of jettisoning or punishing him, likely because reducing their seat count in their minority government is not on their to-do list. So we the audience will probably be hearing about this one for a while yet, which I'm sure is just what we were all looking forward to.

(And Brad Wall, now the Premier of Saskatchewan, is on the same videotape mocking then-Premier Roy Romanow with what is ostensibly a Ukrainian accent; Romanow is still a pretty well-respected dude, and Saskatchewan has a few Ukrainians in it, so you can imagine how the next provincial election over there is going to be nothing but good times.)

I couldn't help but laugh a little at a quick tidbit from this coverage:

"Lukiwski was first elected in 2004. The previous MP for that riding, Larry Spencer, was suspended from the Canadian Alliance caucus after he told a reporter he would support a law to outlaw homosexuality.

When he ran for office, Lukiwski criticized Spencer for those remarks.

Man, that poor riding! Sorry, Regina-Lumsden-Lake Centre! Better luck next time!

In conclusion, if you are in politics you should probably not get drunk and make fun of homosexuals in front of a video camera. Write this down somewhere! It's probably a good lesson to remember.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

April Fools' Can Be So Cruel

I graduated from the University of Manitoba with a Double Honours degree in History and Political Studies in the spring of 2006; I'm sure I could have stretched the degree out longer than the four years it takes at minimum to earn it, but for the sake of getting out and finding a good job -- and because the financial undertaking had already effectively bankrupted me -- I felt it was best to finish it and be done with it.

Joke's on me!

ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha AARGH