Monday, March 21, 2011
Lets get something straight here. I'm a bit of a snob, I really am. Its an awful thing and I'm not proud of it but its the way I am. Note however that I'm just a bit of one. I can get a little snooty about movies and television and the general behaviour of white trash folks (and reality television 'stars', though they are often one and the same with the aforementioned) and God knows that I like my fancier beers but I'm also just a few generations removed from folks who were literally from the back woods. My Mom was from what one would call Northern Ontario gentry and you should hear her tell about her first meetings with my dad's old man, shocked might be a way of putting it. It wasn't long though before her own parents were dragged out camping to the middle of nowhere - I've seen the pictures. These folks were urban and sophisticated, they travelled the world back when nobody did and here they are in Mackinaw jackets and hunting caps, my grandfather enjoying himself, my grandmother less so but smiling grimly all the same.
Anyway I know where I'm from and no years away from there are going to change me that much. I may turn my nose up at a Molson Canadian but goddamnit if you offer me one I'll drink it and I'll enjoy it and I'll thank you for it and mean it and then I'll wipe my nose on my sleeve to boot.
The McLean way is strong. We're like that Star Trek thing that would roll across the universe turning everything it conquered into pasty half robots or whatever the fuck it did. Marry a McLean and like my Mom and my wife and all of the countless others you'll soon find that there's a shack in the backyard and inside of that shack is a sauna. There will be a boat or two in your driveway. The Hip will be on the stereo. Your holidays will be spent in the middle of nowhere. There will be sideburns and general lack of shaving. There will be a hairy back. There will be a fridge full of beer and there will be drinking and smoking and plenty of sex. You will be dragged to weddings and your family will take over the dance floor loudly and clumsily and without any sense of rhythm or dignity. The new family, like your own did at your own wedding, will stare stonefaced in wide wonder at the choice that their son or daughter has made, all the while making plans to come in the night and snatch them away.
Too late. Now they are one of us.
My wife often looks around at dinner and despairs and how these babies that she carried and birthed have turned into little savages but as the boy noted to her the other day after she shouted at them to stop eating like animals:
Humans are animals Mommy.
Smart boy. He's five.
And oh how did I laugh.
All of this is just a leadup to another tale because I will never take a minute to tell a story when thirty minutes are available. I was reminded in a comments' thread here last week about my adventures with port. I've gotten into it lately, mostly because of friends of ours. He's nuts about it and whenever we get together we end up breaking out a bottle if we're at their place or ordering some if we are out. Buddy is a man of wealth and taste, certainly much more so than I, even though his upbringing was similar to mine but the first time he offered me some port I made a face, said no thanks and wondered to myself what I had done to offend him.
The reason for this is that back in the day when my pal Higgins and I spent many days and nights wandering this city in a haze one of those things that we used to drink, for some reason, was port. There was that and beer of course and lemon gin, the type that had warning labels on it not to drink it straight or you might go blind. We would go out and I'd come home and I'd be terrified that I'd be so drunk that I'd grab the bottle and empty it and wake up sightless.
It was dirt cheap of course, as was the port, which was a big part of the attraction and one night I came upon my comrade in arms and another lad and they were drunk and mumbling and emptying a bottle of port. For some reason I was sober (I really have no idea on that one) and so I sat down and they poured me a glass and it was the most awful swill I have ever tasted. That was it for me and it would be over twenty years before I had another glass.
And it was then that I discovered that if you spend over six dollars on a bottle of port its actually pretty damn good.
One positive to come from this season is how the Oilers have committed to creating a proper development system and farm club. After years of sharing affiliates, scrimping on the minor league operation, floundering in this major part of developing a winning franchise, the Oilers seem to have figured it out and gotten it right. The Barons may or may not make the playoffs but after years of being a doormat they are a competitive club with what looks to be good coaching. Considering that their roster has been plucked clean by the big club and they are still in the playoff race is a testament to a job well done. Two of their best, if not their two best players, Omark and Reddox, have been gone for months and at times they have been without their top goaltender, various defencemen and a raft of forwards.
More important to the longterm view is how players are coming out of the minors. Of course a lot of this has to do with natural talent but there's no doubt that the success of players like Petry speaks to the coaching that they have received. The last two games we have seen Teemu Hartikainen, who is a better player than JF Jacques already, Ryan O'Marra, who may have a career as a role player finally and Chris Vandevelde, who has not looked out of place.
None of these guys, except for the Finn, may be anything more than a tweener or fourth liner, but after a few years of seeing roster spots filled by guys like Jacques and MacIntyre and other flotsom and jetsom, seeing guys come up who look like they actually can play hockey is a nice change of pace. Visitors here know I have a lot of contempt for the management of this franchise but on this count at least they have gotten it right.
Posted by Black Dog at 6:00 PM