Sunday, January 05, 2014

A Long Strange Trip

It was about eight years ago that I googled something on the Oilers, I can't remember what, and one of the results directed me to a website called Covered In Oil. After an hour or so of reading and crying from laughing so hard I clicked on the links there and found Battle of Alberta, Irreverent Oil Fans, Mc79Hockey and Lowetide.

 Golden days. Of course this was the winter of 2006 and the Oilers were beginning what would be a wonderful trip and if you were an Oiler fan on the internet your companions and guides on this journey were Chris Boutet, Mike Winters, Dave Berry, Hugh MacKenzie (and Matt Fenwick providing the Flames' point of view at BofA), Vic Ferrari, Dennis King, Cam Thomson, Tyler Dellow and Alan Mitchell. As well Colby Cosh, Erin Loxam and Andy Grabia provided their own insights on their own websites that were not Oilercentric.

 As a guy who had always read traditional media it was a wonderful and exciting new world. Coverage of my favourite team by all of these excellent writers, the great insight, the humour, the, well, the irreverence, pulled me in and inspired me and so I started this blog.

 On February 8th I wrote my first post and here is what I said, short and sweet (for once):

And awayyyyy we go!

Stay tuned for musings on nearing 40, life with a wife, two kids (how did that happen!?) and Satan's Foreign Minister (our dog), the exciting times we live in, pubs I've known and loved, Guinness and the Edmonton Oilers, among other things.

Not necessarily in that order.

This may take a while for me to figure out but - as my two year old says - this is her mantra - "I do it by the self!"

Her, I trust to do it by the self.

As for me, well, good luck with that.


 It didn't take long before it became an Oilers' blog, period. Hugh MacKenzie pointed out my existence to the community and I learned pretty quickly that standards were high when Colby Cosh commented on Hugh's introduction over at Battle of Alberta that he would take a pass on the new guy thanks, he had read my latest post and my reference to the 'young Edmonton Oilers' was both lazy and inaccurate.

 And so I learned. I have always written but I lack the talent and work ethic to do much more than I do here. The vignettes, little snapshots, that is what I can do and so that is what I did and I honed my craft, if I may be so bold as to call it this that, and so I became perhaps the best I can be. Its not much but I enjoy what I do and I think that's what matters.

 A few years into this the Oilers were losing and I was finding it difficult to write about the club. How many ways can you write that a team is terrible (quite a bit we know now) and so with old favourite Fernando Pisani returning from a bout with the illness that ruined his career I wrote a story about how my old man and I weathered a winter storm to trek to the beer store to get some supplies, stopping in a pub to enjoy a fireside pint on the way. I tied this into Pisani and the response was good and so I wrote another story in my next post and then another and so the blog went back to its origins. I wrote about being a parent and a husband and about my dog and my folks and travelling and the old days and the kind words and comments left me awestruck and inspired and gave me strength in tough times, when illness struck my father in law and my mom and when my old dog passed, nearly four years now he's been gone, can you believe it.

 This is post number 1000 and there have been over 425000 page views and nearly 10000 comments and while this is what LT sees (and posts) in a week ;) its been humbling to see these numbers and, yes, gratifying, what can I say, I'm not going to fake it and say that I am not proud of this. For a couple of years I was part of The Score, linked by them and so I was paid to be a writer, if only a little, and boy was I proud to get that money to pay for my beer each month.

 Where does this blog go from here? Well you only have to look at the right hand side of the page to see that I don't post as much as I used to. I don't have the time I used to have but even when I do I don't post and a lot of this has to do with the sad state of the Oilers. As I noted above how often can you rage against the machine? I have better things to do and really I have little to add to the conversation other than my mantra which I see quite a bit on the twitter - get good players and keep them. The Oilers have dumped good players for years without replacing them and Horcoff, Smid and soon Hemsky will be out the door for nothing to show for them but cap space and yeah there's a reason this club has sucked for eight years and my bet is the hole is so big that we're heading into Islanders' territory, I hope I'm wrong but fear that I am not.

 That said I will keep on keeping on with the odd tale of beer league (we're in a horrible slump) and the boy's evolution as a player (he's really coming on, you should have seen him play yesterday it was a joy) and my oldest becoming a teenager (its coming and its terrifying) and my parents getting older (its here and its beyond terrifying).

 Because in the end this blog has gone back to its origins. Its my story and our story. I have over five hundred pages of stories parsed from this blog and if I get my shit together I will cut that in half and get it out there and maybe sell a dozen copies for cost plus shipping. I guess that's the project now. I'm not out of stories but I want to do something with what I have put out there.

 Time to close now, I'm meandering which is my wont and is just fine by me. This blog, to me, has become the equivalent of a guy telling stories in a bar, with the game on in the background and my observations on that thrown in. The crowd has thinned out and my memory isn't what it was but I hope that for those of you who still come by that you still enjoy it.

 And thank you. Many many thank yous. I have had a number of people over the years tell me that I have inspired them, that in dark times I have made a difference, that I have given them a laugh or a light when its been tough for them. I can't believe that, first of all, and when I have read those comments I have always been left dumbfounded and always always very grateful for the kind words. Best of all I have met many 'men from the internet' (and the odd woman) and as a result I am a richer man than I was eight years ago as I have met many good people and in some case, have made good friends as a result of this.

 Spare me a moment as I become a bit sentimental (some wags would say that I always am, to those I would say more sentimental ;) ). Thank you thank you thank you. You have made a difference in my life and I hope if you have taken anything from these wandering tales that it would be this. Be kind. Laugh. Enjoy. Love. Life is very short my internet friends. Make the best of it. Eat. Drink. Be merry.

And thank you again.



Smith said...

Pat - just wanted to say that if you should collect stories from this blog in printed form I would be first in line with money in hand.

Here's hoping.

Olivier said...

And if nobody want to print the thing, ebooks! ePub ebooks are an especially nice format, can read them on your phone.

BDHS: The Journey would make an awesome read, I concur.

Pete. said...

This is a wonderful blog. I hope for 1000 more posts, even (especially?) if they're progressively less Oiler-related. said...

Enjoy your stuff. Like the referral 's to the island cottage culture of the eighties:) Look forward to the book.


Anonymous said...

I love reading Dellow, Willis, Zone, Lowetide etc. but I'll be honest I'm most excited when I see that there is a new post on this site. I check about twice a day, and yes I realize this means I'm probably not doing enough other things with my life. Not only do I enjoy the humor and the writing immensely but the way you frame the issues of the day concerning the Oilers is always refreshing and insightful. Here's to 1000 more posts!

Anonymous said...


BombKengartner said...

Count me in for a copy of the book Pat. Love your work.


Ladi's Cheesy Cheeseburger said...

Thanks and Congrats Pat! I discovered your blog 4 or 5 years ago and have been following along ever since.

I subscribe to your blog's RSS feed. The other Oilers feeds I subscribe to are OilersNation and Lowetide (I also subscribe to several non-hockey, non-Oilers stuff). When I go through my feeds' unread blog posts, I usually leave your's for last. Reading them is therapeutic in a way. Really enjoy your musings on family, growing up, and just life in general... oh, and also the Oilers I guess (like you alluded to, how many interesting ways are there to describe a car accident? I think we ran out 2 or 3 years ago).

Anyway, please do continue doing what you're doing. I just found out that my wife is pregnant. It'll be our first. Crazy as it sounds, one of the things I "get out of" BDHS is parenting tips :)

Murat said...

This blog does for me as an adult what Calvin and Hobbes did for me as a child.

There was a paragraph here where I tried to explain that and failed, but I promise it's a compliment!

Here's to 1000 more and a playoff run or two to spur you along. You could even have another kid by then (kidding! don't shoot.)

Chris! said...

Thanks for 1,000 great reads over the years, Pat. You outlasted us all! Well, CinO anyways.

May you write 1,000 more!


Mr. Pederson said...

Hey Pat,

Thanks for the blog! Always a good read and an interesting viewpoint on the Oilers. It's a shame that them being awful (among the other things in your life you mentioned) have cause you to post less but I cannot blame you. I'm having trouble watching the games lately.

I will always particularly love Putin's letter's to Horcov. Probably one of the worst things about trading him for nothing (sorry, "cap space").

Anyways, thanks again from a fellow Oilers fan and beer enjoyer.

Black Dog said...

Thanks everyone for the kind words, I really appreciate it. I love writing but I love the comments just as much. Thank you!

And Ladi's Cheesy Cheeseburger (love the tag - a Horcov fan perhaps?) congrats! get your sleep and get ready for the ride of your life, its the best.

Anonymous said...

There are many good writers around the oilogosphere, but none write with the soul that you do.

Keep doing it! And make sure to publish a book.

Andy said...

Pat, I've commented a few times over the years but many, many more times than that I've pondered your take on life and manhood and been inspired. My ice has been well polished by your care for your lady, hound, kids, friends, family and good spirits. Congrats on the milestone and reflection. - Andy

Black Dog said...

Thank you Andy and last anon. Very kind of you!

Bruce said...

Not sure how I missed this. Congrats on the 1,000. Love your blog. Despite your protestations to the contrary you are an extremely talented writer, or should I say, story teller. (Which is an even bigger compliment than the former in my books)

Speaking of books, if that dream becomes a reality, put my name on the waiting list, please and thank you.

Thank us for reading? Thank YOU for writing!

Black Dog said...

thanks Bruce! Appreciate that.