Thursday, March 31, 2011

My Kingdom For The Big Fella



Had a bowl of ice cream last night and it made me think of my old friend. It was just over a month ago that I came home from Dublin and noticed that something was off with his eye. It was the beginning of the end. It was a tough couple of months.


Old Ben (actually Ben at all ages) loved his ice cream which I gave to him sparingly as a special treat. We generally avoided giving him people food with the exception of cheese and spaghetti (that dog loved spaghetti) but the odd time I would give him a little ice cream and when we were finishing a carton I'd throw it on the floor and he'd stick his head in there and push it around the kitchen as he cleaned it out. Good old days.


Last night I was up with the youngest who has a bit of the red ass going on (literally, not in the Lou Pinella sense of the word) and then once I had that taken care of and was back in bed shortly thereafter the boy came in having had a nightmare and so it was to his room and we got that squared away and fucking right I am father of the year. Every year. I'm the Nick Lidstrom of Dads.


So I'm back in bed and I'm drifting off and all of a sudden the cat comes back in and decides that its time to play and so my body becomes a trampoline and my feet become prey and while I resist the urge to fire it out the window the fact is we have a problem. I fire it out into the hall and close the door and its meowing and banging into the door and I'm wondering if the kids would question kitty "going to the farm".


Last week I was heading out the door with my oldest to go pick up our younger two. We were hauling a table out at the same time that I was moving on Kajiji.


Here's the thing about my oldest. She's a sweet sweet kid. Sharp? You bet. Really smart. Its not bragging if its true you know. She's really really bright. She is me as a kid, I was a smart little dude.


Also I was a flake. I was the type who could impress you with my knowledge, quoting Shakespeare, all the while not realizing that I wasn't wearing pants. Very little has changed to be honest.


My daughter is cut from the same cloth. She is me. Which is good news for her generally except for the unibrow thing.


And the flaky thing. She is forever forgetting things, walking around with her head in the clouds. It makes my wife mental but it can't be helped.


So this afternoon we were walking this table out the door, she was helping which was cute and appreciated and all of a sudden I see you know what coming down the stairs.


The cat, I said. The cat is coming. Put the table down and pick her up.


Nothing.


The cat. Pick up the cat.


Nothing.


Sweetie put the table down and pick up the cat before she walks out the door.


And then she did, walk out the door that is.


Motherfucking cat.


Its under a hedge next door and after about five minutes of cajoling and muttered curses it saunters out and my daughter picks her up and then, as we get back to the house, she lets her go, for no reason really.


Another fifteen minutes passed and we chased that goddamn cat from house to house halfway down our street, including at least once when I flushed it out and my oldest, god bless her, let it walk right by, before we finally got our hands on it.


Fucking cat.


Reminds me of those old comics, you know, when you had way too much cheese in your house, so much cheese that its getting stinky, so you bring in a few mice to eat the cheese and then next thing you know you have too many mice and so then you bring in a cat to take care of the mice and then next thing you know you have too many cats, like maybe one, and then you need to bring in the dog to clean the whole mess up.


That's what we're needing.


Impossible? Well I always thought so but a couple of weeks ago we were at a maple sugar bush and a little black pup was hanging out there and on the way back we passed a sign that said puppies for sale and I mentioned how I missed that old boy and Jenn said just wait a couple of years.


A light at the end of the tunnel.


Meanwhile, anyone want a kitten? For free. Actually I will give you money.


I kid. Sort of.


---------------------------


The Oilers continue to play out the string. Mercifully its almost over and we will have over five months to recover until we start it all over again. Its been a disaster as we all know, reminiscent of the spring of 2007. Its an AHL lineup through and through. They can't score and they can't defend and it can't end fast enough.


You know its been a bad run when coughing up a big lead to your biggest rival ranks as probably the best game you have played in a long time. Certainly the most entertaining.


I have decided that its the radio for me when I watch the late games on CBC from now on. I complain endlessly about Kevin Weekes, time to just stop listening to that smarmy, dull, foolish man. I've never heard such poor commentary in decades of watching hockey. A block of cheese would add to the quality of the broadcast - addition by subtraction you know.


Anything nice to say about our poor Oilers? Well I'm loathe to jump the gun and call Teemu top six material based on a handful of games but man is he a dynamic player or what? Big and physical and his motor always running and he makes things happen offensively as well. That rush the other night against the Kings was really something. He may have been a sixth round pick but he's going to cover that bet and then some. He's a player. He'll break camp with the big club next year and I wonder if his emergence impacts what they think of Jones. Still LW looks like Hall/Paajarvi/Jones/Teemu if they sign the chubby guy with the flowing locks.


And Vandevelde doesn't look out of place. Plus he can win draws. Despite a pedestrian rookie pro year in OKC I think he has put a big foot forward towards next season as well, most likely as that big fourth line centre this club has lacked in forever.


Other then that, I've got nothing.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Time


Mentioned over in a thread at Lowetide's the other day that I'm watching a show on Bravo called Rock and Roll Stories. Its three hours looking at the scene in Toronto in the fifties and sixties.

I watched the first show and it was really well done. Interviews with Robbie Robertson and Ronnie Hawkins and numerous other musicians and hangers on. When I watch shows like this I'm always struck most of all by the passing of time. Seeing Robertson has a skinny smirking teenager or Hawkins as a young man with thick black hair and a thuggish grin and then seeing them now is a startling reminder that a half century has passed and they are old men now. Robertson still looks good as he tells anecodotes in that laconic way he has while Hawkins is fat and pasty and white bearded, his raspy coughs telling the story of thousands and thousands of cigarettes and the lung disease that will come for him one day.
Even more interesting though are the changes in the city itself. Yonge Street is the centre of it all, a brawling, boozy, neon jaunt peopled with musicians and thieves, wise guys and kids out to have a good time, as kids always will. Its the Yonge Street of legend, not the strip I came to in the mid eighties, strip clubs and head shops, record stores and sex shops and rub and tugs. And now, twenty five years after I first walked it, Yonge Street is changing again, losing some of that seedy grandeur.

I've always been fascinated by the history of a city. A grocery store that I used to go to when I was a student, now long gone itself, had large photos on its walls of the neighbourhood as it looked at the turn of the twentieth century, muddy paths wending through empty fields and climbing the plateau where St Clair Avenue runs today. The odd shack or farmhouse. Young men, dirty with work, grinning, squinting in the sun, all long gone now. Best grocery store ever.

When you have small children time comes into focus. Life is hectic so you suddenly realize, as we did last night, that we've had nobody over to our house for dinner or drinks in months, even though we had no idea that this was the case. You look at pictures of the family from last summer and while we look the same basically (Jenn is skinnier and I am a little greyer, soon you may call me the Silver Fox) the kids look totally different, especially our youngest. Five or six months ago the boy could not skate, our oldest could barely swim, our youngest could barely talk. Now they have all mastered these skills. I plan for the future as best I can and realize that ten years from now my little sweetheart, my first child, will be finishing high school. And there will be boys coming around and I will be forced to threaten them with violence.

That's not that far away. And then I realize that twenty five years ago I was just finishing up high school myself and now here I am, I've been married ten years this summer. And my old man will be eighty next summer and he and my mom will mark fifty years together.

And then I start thinking about the circle of life and how there's a time to reap and a time to sow and a time to laugh and a time to mourn and I wonder how the hell they actually made a reasonable musical out of The Lion King, with the stilts and the costumes and all of that crazy shit. And then I think that its the weekend finally, thank fuck for that, and I think I'll have a bottle of wine tonight and read a good book and this weekend I'll hang out with my kids because my wife is working all weekend but thats okay because she makes good money. And I think about that glass of brandy I had last night and how good Jenn's ass looked in those new jeans when she got back from a dinner out, all flushed and boozy and how we had a good time last night, we still have it and that is a great great thing.
Sing it Elton.

--------------

Oh man, talk about time passing slowly, five years out of the playoffs and the Oilers playing out the string with Hall and Hemsky and Whitney and Gagner and Horcoff all out and Fraser is the second line centre and Ryan Jones is playing twenty minutes a night and Strudwick is in the lineup and its 2007 all over again. Its painful.

There's nothing left but to see if Eberle can score twenty and if the young Finn gets his first and really other than watching Hartikainen there's really nothing left to do. The team is beyond awful and all we can hope is that nobody gets seriously hurt.

I am looking forward to this tournament that they hold every spring where teams get to play for the Stanley Cup. Should be fun. Its wide open. Would be nice if the Oilers, you know, made an appearance someday.

For us, us poor Oilers' fans, its all about the offseason. About which veterans get bought out or moved along, which teenagers get picked at the draft, which kids turn pro and have a shot at making it next season. Early returns say that Petry and the Finn will be in the lineup next fall, Teemu has already eaten Jacques' lunch, not that that in itself is any great feat and I would bet that we see see Petry beside Whitney come September.

That's what passes for excitement these days.

Son of a bitch.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Other Things That Can Make You Go Blind




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.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Kiss Me, I'm Slightly Irish, Like, Perhaps Ten Percent


Ah, St Patrick's Day.

Or as I like to call it, Amateur Night.

My pal and I frequent the communists' bar, also known as The Only Cafe, quite a bit and there used to be a lovely girl who tended bar there and one March 18th we showed up for pints and she was grumbling, and she rarely grumbled, about how much she detested two nights of the year, New Years Eve and St Patricks Day. Lots of arseholes and lots of puke to clean up.

Now I'm a big Guinness man, there are generally two types of pubs I frequent. Those that carry regional or local brews, like the Victory Cafe, the Cloak and Dagger,the communists' bar or Cafe Volo, well at these places I'll go with one of the wonderful options from these parts. And those other ones, McVeighs, the Dora Keough, McCarthys, well at these places then I'll have myself Guinness, four of them if I can. Remember, four pints is the perfect number.

And when it comes to the hard stuff, as discussed in the previous post's comments, I'm an Irish whiskey man. I do enjoy it very much.

When I was a young man I always wanted to go to Dublin. There and Spain were the two destinations of choice and now, years later, I have been lucky enough to get to Ireland three times. Once Jenn and I went and then my company became involved with a company over there and so I went once for work and then for a wedding of a friend I met through work there.

When it comes to travel there is nothing like becoming familiar with a place. Its the only way to go and I know some parts of Dublin better than a few of my friends there. Have had a few nice wanders there.

Ireland is a lovely country and the Irish are a terrific folk and our celebration of St. Patrick's Day has about as much to do with them as I do with the American space program.

So quite a bit but its not on the money. Or maybe not at all.

---------------

For a lot of people the whole idea of the Irish is a romantic one. Ireland is cool and its beautiful and its fun and that goes a long way. We don't go celebrating a day for the patron saint of Albania now, do we?

My Dad had four brothers and a sister. One of his brothers is a former airline pilot and more than a bit of a madman. He's what you'd call a character and while sadly he's slowed down quite a bit and his health has become an issue, in his day he was the life of the party, a born storyteller and entertainer. Now my uncle has been to Ireland many times and as one of his sons said, the kids were 'brought up Irish'. Now this was years ago before Ireland took off, we're not talking some sort of Celtic revival wanna be here, my uncle celebrated our family's Irishness (Irishnicity?) because as family lore went, we had come from Kincardine and made our way to the pine forests and granite cliffs of Lake Superior.

The only problem is he had the story all wrong. Neil McLean was Scotch through and through and he married a Bell, Margaret, born in Canada, her parents also Scots. (There were many Bells and McLeans from Islay and I think, though I can't know for sure, that this was a connection that brought Neil to Ontario. Immigrants then tended to stick with what they knew when they could, same as immigrants now I think its fair to say.)

Neil and Margaret had eight children and farmed in Nottawasaga, near Barrie, Ontario and after a couple of decades there they moved west to the Bruce on the shores of Lake Huron. It was only a few years after that that they sailed from Collingwood across Huron to the Soo and then to the other side of the moon, er, Goulais River. Neil and Margaret and seven of their children made the voyage but one son, Duncan, stayed behind and he disappears at this time, makes a life in Kincardine.

Ontario.

My poor uncle, when I broke the news that while his grandmother was a Whelan even she was only half Irish, if that, and that the McLeans were no more Irish than the Boissonneaus, my grandmother's family.

Nothing compared to my cousin Mike though who proclaimed that I had just made a lie out of a good part of his upbringing.

Oops.

-----------------------

As for the Oilers, well O'Marra got the call along with Giroux and Jean Vandevelde, who, along with Teemu, makes his NHL debut tonight. Good luck to the kids, good god they are going to need it but here's hoping they pull off an Irish miracle and O'Marra and that other Irishman, O'Mark, do well on St. Patrick's Day.
Not long now until we're put out of our misery for another summer.

Monday, March 14, 2011

The Importance Of Teemu




This is exactly like the spring of 2007 except we haven't had our hearts ripped out by having Ryan Smyth traded. That club was better than this one but it too was ravaged by injuries. With Horcoff, Jacques and Brule (seriously?) all leaving Sunday's game the list of injuries has gotten just a little bit ridiculous. Colin Fraser is now the number two centre unless its Liam Reddox.

I'd say the first overall pick is in the bag especially with Ottawa winning now and then, Colorado having a slight cushion and the Islanders leaving the Oilers in their dust with one of the best records in the league since December. Indeed the Islanders look to have three players topping thirty goals. One of those was a first pick overall. One was a waiver wire pickup. Another was picked 263rd overall in 2003.

Which brings us to Teemu Hartikainen who has gotten the call to come up from OKC and make his debut in Edmonton this week. Hartikainen has been dynamite in the AHL since he found his footing. He is a big lad. He does good work along the boards and in front of the net and he scores a lot of those goals that Mike Babcock calls 'greasy'. He also seems to have those intangible qualities that hockey people love - the work ethic, the drive to succeed and all of that jazz.

He brings a lot of qualitites to the Oilers that they lack. And he is a sixth round pick.

In Gare Joyce's terrific book on scouting he does a little bit of math and determines something that is certainly not unheard of in these parts of the Internet (and elsewhere of course). He looks at the numbers and breaks down the chances of players to make the NHL based on where they are picked. What he finds surprises him. Once you get past the cream of the crop there is a pretty good dropoff (I don't have the book in front of me so cannot quote the numbers but its surprisingly steep). Also he finds that the chances of say, a second rounder making it, are pretty close to the chances of a third rounder making it. His idea is a straight forward one, if he were a GM he would play the percentages and do things like trade a low first round pick for a couple of seconds or a second for a couple of thirds.

As I said its hardly earth shattering stuff if you are aware of the numbers, which I was not when I read the book. Its certainly very interesting if its new to you.

We're going to be hearing a lot about the draft now. There's very little to talk about. The Oilers have drafted nicely over the past few years. A lot of prospects are tracking very well and hopefully we will see this come to fruition with the big club fairly soon.

And here's hoping that Teemu Hartikainen spends the next few weeks looking like he belongs because if he does then we're going to have another piece of the puzzle and most importantly, like Grabner and Moulson, it will be from the outer rim of what is usually possible.

There is never a guarantee with drafting eighteen year old kids (hello Gilbert Brule, what plague has stricken you now?) but Taylor Hall, Sam Gagner and Magnus Paajarvi were all pretty good bets to make it when their names were called. The same can be said for that lottery pick this June and, if things work out and the Oilers move up, another top ten pick.

Its picking a star like Ales Hemsky at number thirteen or Jordan Eberle in the twenties where you really make your hay. And getting Petry and Peckham and Omark after round one, if they can continue their development, are even bigger coups.

Barring injury, Taylor Hall is going to be a star in the NHL but some of these higher picks are not going to pay off for whatever reason. Getting useful players like Marcinin and Hamilton in the second round would be golden. Getting a guy who can play in the sixth round would be absolutely beautiful.

Beautiful.

Friday, March 11, 2011

The Gods Are Laughing



I'm a bit of a prankster but not as much as one of my pals who was dynamite back before call waiting when it came to prank phone calls. One day during my drifting time I was sitting at home getting high and watching the tube when the phone rang.



It was a girl. Which immediately made it an event.



She told me that she was a regular customer at the video store and that she thought I was a pretty funny guy (true) and that I was cute (very true) and she was hoping I didn't mind that she got my number from one of my coworkers, which of course I did not, and would I be interested in grabbing a coffee.



Which of course I was. Because that is how I roll.



So she said that she might call me in a couple of days but before she let me go she had a question that she was wondering if I could answer and me, the cockles of my heart warm and fuzzy, answered of course and so she said:



Is it true that you have big balls?



And I heard my buddy roar in the background.



(Its true btw about the big balls, one of them is a real hanger. The same fellow stood in my wedding and gave a "Top ten list of things that Pat doesn't want me to talk about at his wedding", just a teaser list. One of them was "The Longest Ball" which brought looks of confusion from the majority of the crowd and outbursts of laughter from those in the know. As one guy said "when he said that I shit my pants".)



Frank always did good work and his schemes were often elaborate. He created a fake email account and sent a profile in one of our buddy's names to his university alumni magazine when they were looking for an update on the latest goings on of graduates, describing a life lived with a number of cats and an obsession with gymnastics. There was also the time that he submitted Sudbury Saturday Night song verses to the local paper when it was holding a contest for an upcoming Stomping Tom gig. I wandered into the living room after a night of drinking, picked up a paper and found my name attached to a bit of poetry. Also in the paper - entries from most of our friends.



-------



As for myself, well this wasn't meant to be a practical joke but it ended up to be pretty funny. Back in the day I was talking to a buddy and I'm not sure exactly how it came about except we were talking about painting and he labelled me, in an homage to my offbeat personality, Joe Offwhite. Just one of those oddball segues that makes no sense but sticks somehow, at least for a time.



Years later we are preparing for our wedding. We lived in Florida at the time and we were getting married on the Island and so there was a lot of long distance coordination going on. My niece was going to be the flower girl and my sister and I were talking and she asked me about the dress she needed to get for her daughter. Jenn had told me offwhite was the colour so I told my sister, why I have no idea:



Jenn said offwhite, you know, Joe Offwhite



Now a couple of weeks pass and I'm talking to my sister again and she tends to be easily agitated and she is pretty worked up.



You're going to have to tell Jenn she has to buy this dress herself. I've been to every fucking shop in Sudbury and nobody has even heard of Joe Offwhite - they all have regular offwhite or ivory - so she's going to have to go with that or give me another colour!



And of course then I had to explain.



---------------------



This season was destined for the dumpster all along but the events of the past few weeks have conspired to turn it into an absolute farce. Almost immediately after one of the best players on the team is traded Taylor Hall and Ales Hemsky are injured, Hall for the rest of the season. Hemsky may return for a handful of games, these likely to be the last he plays in an Oliers' uniform. Theo Peckham goes down leaving a defence corps where Tom Gilbert either has to play 55 minutes a game or they go with two of Vandermeer, Foster, Strudwick and the latest rookie fodder (was Plante, now Petry again) as their second pair.



The veteran goalie is knocked out with an eye injury sustained by an ice chip. His replacement immediately arrives, wins, and then is sent back to the minors when Khabibulin returns. Gerber, who is probably the better goalie, makes a fraction of what Khabibulin makes and is not signed for another two years. In his first game back Khabibulin takes a penalty for playing the puck outside the trapezoid and then tries to outskate Jason Chimera to a loose puck, this despite the fact that Gilbert had the angle on Chimera, who also happens to be a pretty fast dude.



Faster than a hasbeen goalie anyhow.

And now Sam Gagner is done for the year, his hand sliced open by Ryan Jones' skate as he SAT ON THE BENCH.



There are two ways to look at this.



The hockey gods, much as they did last year, are ensuring that the long suffering fans of the Oilers get the first pick overall. Last year Tambellini and Lowe built a crappy team but not crappy enough. By decimating it with injuries it became clear to management that after four awful years it might be time to rebuild. And this year we have had more freakish mishaps to ensure that we will not pass Ottawa or Colorado.



Its the spring of 2007 all over again. I'm waiting for my call to suit up. Its coming.



So its possible that the hockey gods are showing sympathy for us and at the same time are trying to give us something to laugh about. An ice chip in the eye. Season ending injuries caused by unseen ruts in the ice. An injury while sitting on the bench. Next I expect Eberle will fall down the stairs after a dream about spiders or Gilbert will light himself on fire while ironing his hair. The whole idea being that when they win the Cup in four to six years we will look back and laugh at these pratfalls and misfortunes.



Of course the other possibility is that the hockey gods have no sympathy for Oiler fans, blessed a generation ago with the greatest collection of hockey talent to ever put on skates. In other words, this is just the beginning.

Time for a drink! And maybe a little whack to take off the edge.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

A Penguin Just Went Upstairs To Take A Whiz


A bit of a situation here at Chez McLean - since Friday evening we have been without heat and hot water except for about eight hours on Saturday when the problem appeared to be resolved but was not.

So its been an interesting little adventure and its funny because for the most part we've just rolled with it, the biggest stress was finding out the end game and once that was put on the table we have been dealing with it. Friday night was warm here and we actually kept warm the old fasioned way which was effective and fun (pragmatic and enjoyable - an old man's dream!). Saturday night the temperature began to drop and the last two nights it was below minus ten so while we managed to use space heaters and the oven to get the main and upper floors to around 18 by bedtime when we got up it was barely in the teens anymore.

A little cold and I think I just saw a penguin wander by on his way upstairs to take a leak.

My biggest concern was the kids but other than the fact they are all filthy, er filthier, they've sailed through this just fine. We've piled blankets on them and they have those warm kids' pajamas and so they come out of their rooms in the morning just fine, albeit dirty.

Looks like we'll be back in business today and I've come away from this with two notions. One is that it could always be worse, if this was a month ago when we had a couple of weeks at minus twenty I don't think I'd be so calm about the whole thing.

And secondly, how the hell did people live here a century ago or more? I've talked about those days a few times. Could you imagine it? Minus thirty or colder day after day with nothing but a woodstove to keep you warm.

Mental. They were mental!

--------

Oilers win three in a row and of course that will be fodder for the trade Hemsky crowd with him being out of the lineup and them rolling off a couple. Watched the Avs game last Saturday and wow are they ever shitty. And Elliot is just awful. Anyhow I assume the Flyers wil put the kids in their place tonight unless the flu still has not run its course.

Its all over but the crying for the fifth consecutive season and all that remains is to see if the kids finish strong. Gagner looks like he will hit fifty points (and end up being the club's leading scorer) although that minus sticks out a bit. Was looking at the stats today and a few things stood out. Hemsky and Horcoff are plus players on this disaster which speaks to their quality. Tom Gilbert is a minus ten somehow, despite playing forty minutes a game or so. ;) Pretty impressive.

Anyhow hopefully Paajarvi and Omark and Eberle and Dubnyk all finish what have been decent rookie seasons for them. The blue is a horror show now, its shades of spring 2007 again but at least Plante is getting some at bats now. He looked like a young Matt Greene last game, wearing a path to the box. If he gets to be Greene that would be just fine but he's got a long way to get there though.

Other than that its stay healthy please and hopefully we will get a look at Hartkainen (LT refers to Renney saying we will) and one last thing, I know its a shit team but it certainly looks like Liam Reddox has earned himself a spot, at least for now. I'm sure next fall he will get sent out again for JFJ or some other hulking goof who cannot play but for now its nice to see a kid who busts his ass getting some time in the bigs.