Thursday, June 11, 2009

How Call Display Ruined Everything

When Stomping Tom was a boy, phones were black and they had a dial on them. They didn't have anything fancy about them.

There was no display window of any sort on the device that would show you any information at all, including an incoming number. There was no such thing as Call Display back in the day, kids, and as a result you had many who practiced the now lost art of prank phone calls. You don't have to go that far back. Stomping Tom came to my hometown in the late 80s and the phones were simple and so were we and the results were astoundingly awesome.

I have a very good friend who I have spoken of before here quite a bit. Frank’s parents’ house was our gathering place for many summers back in the day. The juvenile pranks and needling that occurred during those years are legendary in our circles and Frank was usually the lead trickster fox.

The jokes range from the very simple yet still hilarious to the complicated stings that ensnared everyone in his web.

A sampling.

- he called my wife one evening at 2am after we had been drinking for a dozen hours and woke her out of a dead sleep (she had to work a 12 hours shift early that morning) and pretended to be a DJ from Vancouver telling her she won a prize. Luckily for me I was at his house and not our house when this went down.

- he sent an alumni magazine that was doing profiles on graduates a mock profile in a buddy’s name, going so far as to create an email address to send it from. Said profile included references to gymnastics, interpretive dance and the joys of living alone, except for one’s cats

- our local paper had a contest when Stomping Tom Connors came to town – people who submitted the best verses for Sudbury Saturday Night could win a myriad of prizes including concert tickets to go see the legend his own self. I woke up one Saturday morning, hauled my sorry 21 year old ass out of bed and opened our hometown rag to find that not only had nearly everyone I knew sent in entries for the contest but so had I. It went something like this:

On Saturday nights
We go to City Lights
That’s our dancing heaven
We like to dance and dance and dance
And then we like to prance
On A Sudbury Saturday Night


Of course there were repercussions. Live by the sword, well, you know. He answered the phone one drunken night and was told to come into work immediately. He laughed and hung up. The phone rang again. Once again he was told to come in. This time he told the caller (whom he figured was a friend Nick, another noted prankster) to eat it. The third time the phone rang was when he realized that he shared his given name with his Dad.

Nick himself was humbled, at least briefly, when Frank had a girlfriend’s cousin who happened to be a cop call him and ask him to come into the station to discuss complaints about prank calls. Again there was the disbelief and then the realization that he was actually talking to a real police officer. When he called the station and was told that yes there was an officer so and so there, he shaved, put on a shirt and tie and was heading out the door, shitting his pants, when the phone rang to call off the dogs.

Yes I grew up in the company of asses. I was one of the lead donkeys. No need to say anything. I understand.

So one evening a long long time ago (1994) the phone rang and I picked it up. On the other end was a girl.

Is Pat there?

This is him.

Hey, how are you?

And from there she talked about how she had seen me in the video store and she thought I was a pretty funny guy and that I seemed nice and she was wondering if I would like to go out for coffee to get to know each other better. Now I have no idea who she is and she's flirting like mad and its making me crazy. I ask her her name and she tells me that she wants to surprise me but that I will definitely recognize her when we meet. So I'm going nuts and finally we agree to meet and just as I am about to hang up she says:

Oh, one more thing.


Is it true that you have enormous balls?

A roar of laughter in the background and I would have loved to have seen the look on my face as I realized that I had truly been had by Frank and his accomplice, his girlfriend out in BC.


By the way I do have enormous balls. For our wedding Frank flew into the Island from California and got up to speak before the gathered mob and proceeded to read "Ten Things You Don't Know About Pat". Going against all speaking etiquette he read ten concise mysterious phrases (I still have the list somewhere) which left everyone scratching their heads except all of my assembled buddies who were killing themselves as I squirmed as my bride's eyebrow raised with each statement. One of those, the one that my friend the Communist said made him shit his pants, was "The Longest Ball".


All of the talk is of Heatley over these last couple of days and knowing Katz's attempt to make a splash last summer and Tambellini's desire to make over this club and also the names that are possibly available either by trade or in free agency - Vinny L., Havlat, Gaborik, Briere, the Sedins, Hossa, Smyth, Marleau, Spezza, Kovalev, Kessel, Kovalchuk - I think we may see a very interesting few weeks after the Cup is awarded Friday night. The Oilers want to make a splash, you can smell the money burning its way through Katz's pockets, there are going to be all of these big names available.

Its the perfect storm.

There are a few problems. The Oilers are already tight against the cap and have a number of contracts that they cannot dump. The cap is going to remain stagnant and may decline slightly. Next summer it may fall even more. Its not the best time to pick up big longterm contracts unless the names at the bottom of them are Datsyuk or Crosby or Zetterberg or Malkin - you get the idea. If you are going to blow a load of cash you had better make a good bet.

Now its unlikely that the Oilers can get into the position of Montreal or Vancouver or Toronto - clubs who have tons of cap space and who have the money to spend. Its too bad because these teams are going to be able to pick up a lot of terrific bargains imo. A lot of clubs are going to dump useful players and a lot of guys are going to be had for nice rates in July so its a great summer to have money to spend.

If I were the Oilers' braintrust this would be my plan for the offseason. I'm going to try and write a little something something about each of these.

1/ As detailed in the last post sign Jay Bouwmeester.

2/ Now working from a position of strength on the blue I would move one of the veteran blueliners, even just to move the salary.

3/ Do my best to move contracts - on my hit list - Nilsson, Staios, Moreau, Penner if possible.

4/ Keep the three little people - O'Sullivan, Cogliano, Gagner - unless I get a can't miss offer. Keep the four kid blueliners - Gilbert, Grebeshkov, Smid, Peckham.

5/ Keep away from the big money guys who are injury prone or aging or incomplete or have question marks - so most of that list above. I would love to have Gaborik for one season but that is not going to happen so I'm not going to go after him. I want to spend my big money on as sure things as I can. I do not want a guy who has quit on two teams and who can only do one thing, even if that one thing is scoring goals. The Oilers aren't good enough to carry 7.5 million dollars of one dimension.

6/ Identify the bargains and go after them. Gill or Scuderi for the third pair maybe. Moves like Sutter made for Bourque and Glencross.

7/ Go after Jordan Staal.

Lets start at the bottom and we'll return to the others in the upcoming week or so, if I can find the damn time.

Is Jordan Staal going to be available? Maybe not but looking at the Penguins they have a bunch of holes to fill this offseason. The aforementioned Dmen, Garon, Guerin, Fedotenko, Sykora, Satan - all are free agents.

I love how Shero is working the Pens. Its really terrific. He has the two big stars, a good young goalie and going into next season he will have two thirds of a well rounded blue. On top of that he has guys like Kunitz, Kennedy and Talbot under contract. Can't remember Cooke's status.

Anyways to me it looks like Shero is going to ride Malkin and Crosby year after year, fill in their supporting cast (their wingers especially) with one year deals and trade deadline pickups and then roll the dice come the spring. Its a good way of doing things. Satan was a bust but Fedotenko has done well, Guerin too. Easy to convince a veteran sniper to come in for a one year deal - hey come in and play with Crosby or Malkin for a year. If you play well you're going to rack up the counting numbers and you have the best shot at a Cup run outside of Detroit. Finallists last year and this, maybe champs this year, still to be determined.

Jordan Staal is going to start a four year contract next season at a hit of four per. If he played the wing he'd be going nowhere but you'd have to think the Pens have to be thinking of moving him. He's playing with pluggers and there's not enough ice to go around after the two other kids.

If I'm Pittsburgh I'm signing a cheaper alternative to play on that line, to PK and win draws and play the toughs. And I'm moving Staal for a kid like O'Sullivan or Cogliano and maybe another kid who is a few years away and maybe a throwin like Pouliot to act as bottom six filler.

Maybe that's too much to ask for? I don't know but Staal is twenty years old. He has scored over twenty goals twice (his rookie year with an unreal shooting % granted) while playing with guys who aren't to be mistaken for anyone with any serious offensive talent. Give him top minutes at ES and on the PP, give him linemates like Hemsky or O'Sullivan or Penner.

He scores thirty plus easy.

He's a big man up the middle. He can play in any situation. At twenty he has been to the final twice.

I say call Shero after Friday night and make that deal happen.

But if the phone rings and the caller display shows a 613 area code? Let it go to voice mail.


PDO said...

Sorry to temporarily take your thread over here Pat.


While you were waiting for your surgery, did you ever have spasms? I was just sitting here, the entire shoulder started shaking... felt it inside and for a good minute the entire joint was shaking....


Not a huge Staal fan, but he certainly has some nice size & aspects....

Rand said...

613 area code and and a practical joker named 'Frank'?

Oddly enough I know someone that fits that description. Not likely to be the same person though.

Staal is an interesting guy. Not sure he'd be worth the cost to acquire him though.
There's plenty of offence there at ES provided he had decent linemates and he can hold his own against decent opposition.

I tend to think he gets way more then his fair share of credit as a shut down tough minutes forward though.
Hasn't done a lot on the PP yet either, granted he's never played a big role there.

Nice PK guy too.

Worth looking into, but I'm betting hype and youth sees him costing way more then it's worth to acquire in trade.

Gord said...

Unless I am missing something, O'Sullivan has little trade value...

Over 19 games as an Oiler, he scored 2 goals on 59 shots & had 4 assists; while being a -8...

Plus he has a cap hit of $3 million per season for two more years.

HBomb said...

PDO: Never had anything like that, but did have the shoulder lock up when I put my arm into a "vulnerable position" a few times (basically the body's way of saying "if you move any further in direction X, this bitch is falling out of the socket and you're going to be screaming like a little girl").

And Pat - I should have put a copyright on the "daily double" of Jordan Staal and Jay Bouwmeester. the Plan you laid out looks pretty much exactly like mine.

Except I keep Dustin Penner - Penner/Staal/Hemsky followed by O'Sullivan/Horcoff/Pisani is two lines that are going to be able to play some minutes AND produce some offense.

PDO said...

PDO: Never had anything like that, but did have the shoulder lock up when I put my arm into a "vulnerable position" a few times (basically the body's way of saying "if you move any further in direction X, this bitch is falling out of the socket and you're going to be screaming like a little girl").

Had that happen yesterday while scratching my side. I have less than zero faith in it right now.

I blew it out during the second period. Immediately given a beer in the room and chug it. At this point, I realized drinking/eating anything else is a bad idea, as it will delay meds.

So I sit and wait for an hour for the game to be over.

Another half hour for help out of my skates, pants on, etc.

By this time it's getting real sore... walk to my truck damn near killed me and muscle spasms that felt like I had some sort of gnome skull fucking my shoulder socket.

.. I did this at Grand Trunk. Driven to the Grey Nuns. This means groat road. We hit a huge bump.

I didn't know my voice went that high.

For shits and giggles, nearly 4 hours after the dislocation, I had to get out of a wheel chair and onto a gurney.

Explicitly told the nurse to make sure my arm didn't drop, but to not LIFT.

She lifted.

About an inch and a half.

I think half the hospital heard me cuss a blue streak.

BTW, since we're playing GM:

Sign Jay-Bouw. 12 years and a 5.8 cap hit.

Deal Souray + 10th for Frolov + 5th.

Dump the junk (Nilsson for Halak, Moreau, Staios for nothing).

Find a 40ish point two-way C... Moore?

Black Dog said...

Rand - naw 613 for Bryan Murray, Frank's a 905er now

I don't think he's a big shutdown guy either, yet, but I see it there.

20 years old, good at ES with meh linemates, good on the PK, big body

I would think he'd do well on the PP and I think he's a player - he'll totally be able to go power v power and come out on top, imo

Gord - too small a sample size to get down on O'Sullivan - I think he will be totally fine and expect him to have a very good year. He has value. Still just a kid; a bad 19 games while bouncing around the lineup on a team that was dying on the vine isn't much to go on.

Put him on Crosby's wing and he's score a few I would say.

Black Dog said...

HBomb - I'm hoping Quinn can get some more out of Penner, I guess we'll see. Can't see too many folks interested in him.

PDO - yeah I liked Moore a lot from what I could see when he was with the Leafs.

Paper Designer said...

Why move Nilsson's contract? At two million, it's not that much more than the cap hit of the entry level guys, and less than your average salary. He's a cheap top six option... keep him around because it is cap friendly contract.

Black Dog said...

paper designer - the problem is they have four small forwards; I think they can only keep three, some would say only two

Nilsson is the second most expensive of the four, although in a season he would likely be the least expensive, assuming Gagner and Cogliano get raises

More to the point though, he couldn't hold down his job last season. Part of me thinks guys like him and Penner might flourish this year but maybe they are who they are regardless of the coach.

if he's on the second line and producing then he's cheap.

If he's in the pressbox he's a waste of salary.

Unless they move O'Sullivan and Cogliano I presume he's a goner.

Darren said...

I like your way of thinking. On the way to soccer on Wednesday my brother asked me what I thought of getting Heatley, to which I replied, I'd rather sign Bouw, trade souray to wherever I could get the most back (with a top LW if possible) and lose either the 'captain' and/or staios. My dad thought it was crazy... I still dont understand why

Bruce said...

Can't remember Cooke's status.

BDHS: Matt Cooke's status, now as always, is total fucking douchebag.

It's a good gig, running around hitting guys high and/or from behind or taking their knees out when they're most vulnerable, and never ever getting a fucking penalty for doing so. Pays well too, a year to run at $1.2 MM.

Matt Cooke is the one of the two main reasons I'm not wholeheartedly rooting for Pittsburgh in the Finals. (Dan Cleary being the other.) I don't think I could stomach seeing him smirking with the SFC. Scum of the league.

Black Dog said...

Darren - yeah agreed, and sounds like Souray may be on the way out if rumblings are correct.

He's the guy I'd move out of the top four so here's hoping. He did have a wonderful year last though.

Ideally there'd be no cap and they'd keep all four and sign Bouwmeester ;)

Bruce - one of the best lines ever. Awesome

mattwatt said...

Best part of Matt Cooke ran down his dad's leg.

Bruce: Couldn't have said it any better if I tried.

Black Dog said...

Lots of Cooke fans here tonight!

And Bruce before you say anything I take back all I said about Souray. I like him a lot.

But if one of those D has to go then it has to be one of the vets and his value will never be higher then now. And while I don't think he's easily replaceable I think that you can find someone pretty ornery who can fill that role.

If he's asked to be moved then all of the arguing is moot anyways.