Wednesday, June 03, 2015


 I'm a big reader, I always have been and all three kids have followed in my footsteps, Jenn will come home and we will be sprawled about the house, noses in books. She is not a reader at all. She is what used to be called a Philistine. Actually if I see her walking down the Danforth and I am in a pub having a cold beer I will pay a hobo five Canadian dollars to follow behind her at twenty paces and shout at her that she is a Philistine. I kid you not.

 Ever since we have been together which is closing in on twenty years which is completely absurd I have asked for books for Christmas. I put together a list and so on Christmas Day I eagerly open up around a dozen books while she grumbles that I am boring and of course I respond that this is what I want so lay it on me. You can't put a trip to Prague under the tree and we have a limit on what we spend besides and it's what I want. Book me. So now 17 Christmases spent together later I have a couple of bookshelves full of books and I have decided to read them all, one by one. I have read a number of them many times but we have limited space and so before we end up like those brothers in New York ( I have a book about them!) who perished in their hoarders' dream of a brownstone, buried (literally) under piles of newspapers, or in this case books, then I figure I need to cull the herd. It won't be easy because most of them are very good and I will reread them again. But anyhow that is what I am doing right now at the pace of about one or two books a week. At this rate I will be ... well I will be very old when I finish and the cops will find me when the neighbours complain about a sour odour and I will be found, expired, under an avalanche of Hornby and Hemingway, Joyce, McEwan and Boyden, Johnston, MacDonald and Toibin, to name a few.

 One of my favourite authors and one well represented in my little library is Roddy Doyle. I like his writing quite a bit and I have an affinity for the Irish and Dublin, having been there a few times and having good friends there. Last week I read Bullfighting and, like The Guts, it reflects Doyle's own life and the fact that he is getting on. The Guts is about Jimmy Rabbite, who is the guy who put together The Commitments and who appears in many of Doyle's stories that take part in and around Barrytown but he is no longer a young man but now a man in his forties. Bullfighting is a collection of stories and the jist of it is the same, each is about a man in his forties or early fifties. Their children are mostly gone, their marriages are sometimes good, sometimes stale but they are far different from the early days. They have their mates and their nights at the pub but they also have their health issues creeping up on them or their friends. It's a good read and I found it ... well I guess the easiest thing to say is that it spoke to me.

A few weeks ago I went for beers on a Friday night after work with two old friends, in one case he is one of my oldest friends. We don't see each other that much any more, I am in the city and they are in Oakville and up by Newmarket and we are all busy. Their kids are older. One fellow has three and one is in uni and another is graduating high school this month, his third is just turned 16. The other has two teenagers. We're all doing well, we're comfortable and happy and we haven't changed much, the old jokes came as easily as they ever have. At the end of June we're getting together, a gang of us, maybe a dozen of the old crew, up at a camp up by Sudbury. We're going to drink too much and tease each other about getting fat and bald and about the old days and it is going to be amazing.


So here's the thing. Work has been mental. Mental. I love my job, I enjoy it, I work for and with great people and the last six weeks have been nuts. Haven't been sleeping and have been pounding back the old Budweisers as Joe Schultz would say, those and the cheeseburgers. (Note - I don't drink Budweiser because it's shit although if you offer me one I will drink it, anyhow that is a Ball Four reference, basically I have been drinking a lot of beer is what I am saying). Two weekends ago I was supposed to be off the hook and we got a last minute surprise and so the whole weekend itself just ramped everything up.

 And then Monday morning I was in the office and bam, chest pain and tingling and numbness all the way down my arm and so off to emerg I went even though I knew it wasn't classic heart attack symptoms, there was enough going on that I wasn't taking any chances. Spent the afternoon in the hospital while they ran a battery of tests, missed beer league (so you know it was serious!) and the end result was that it was almost certainly not cardiac although we're doing some follow up tests to be sure.

 Crazy huh? As I lay on a gurney, reading, what came to mind was if this is a heart attack it's going to put some serious obstacles into a lot of plans I have - the travel and the eating and the drinking and such. Talked to Jenn and I'm off this fall again, not sure where yet but man oh man it's going to be hard to drink and smoke and eat schnitzel or goulash or chips if I am dragging around an oxygen tent with me.

 So it ended up being a wake up call and really the gentlest one you could have, like someone waking you up by touching your genitals (NOTHING BETTER!). I have to eat better and exercise and I most of all I need to leave work at the office. First thing I did Tuesday was tell my bosses that I was stepping back from the overtime for a while. And I have to get my head together because the most ridiculous thing is that the stress was self induced. Nobody else cares! HAH!

 So I hit the ice on Monday for the first time in two months and it was a beautiful thing, we won which is one more win than I expected this summer, we are seriously overmatched, and so the rest is gravy from here on in, only three games into the season. I played fairly well, the legs and wind aren't great but I did fine and of course I couldn't ask for a better group of fellows to play with. I walked in the room and there were cheers and laughter and one fellow, the guy who coined Patty Sandpaper, reassured me that he could work the defib just fine and we roared (including the guy who did have a heart attack after a game about eight years ago). I've been sleeping just fine too since last Monday so thanks very much, I am fine :) just getting older and there isn't a goddamned thing I can do about it but ride that wave.


 I was four and 0 in the quarters and while I didn't write up the conference finals I picked the Hawks and Rags (YOU CAN LOOK IT UP ON THE TWITTER) in what I figured correctly were two pick em series so I am 10 and 4 for this year which I will take because parity is coming to the NHL and this summer should do a good job of evening out the playing field even more with Chicago, Boston, LA and the Rangers getting dragged back even more. Nothing like punishing success and the league has come to the point where a GM cannot afford to make even one mistake (Crawford), much less two (Bickell).

 The playoffs usually start strong and then peter out but if anything this year it has seen the opposite. The opening round was pedestrian, the second round no better and then the conference finals were terrific. I expect the same from the final.

 This is the first time in a while (Boston/Chicago?) and one of the few times over the last decade where I expect that the eastern representative has a real legitimate shot at winning it all. I like Chicago unless one of their top four D gets hurt or Crawford falls apart and of course both of these are possible and even if neither comes to pass I think Tampa is legit and that a Cup is in their future, if not this year. Two great lines, Hedman and Stralman and guys who can play in the bottom part of the lineup and Bishop is fine, if not great, just like his counterpart. Chicago though, well they're Chicago. I love the Triplets and Stamkos and Killorn but they aren't Toews and Kane and Hossa and Saad and while their D is only four deep it's an unreal four and the bottom six includes Patrick Sharp (!!!) and Marcus Kruger and Vermette and the young Finn and I think they carry the day to be honest. There's too much there. Tampa is quality but they needed seven to beat a meh Wings' club and were outplayed by a Montreal club that is pretty average and got filled a couple of times by a Rangers' team that doesn't scare anybody with that offence. The Hawks are on a different level and while it won't be easy I think they win and establish themselves as one of the all time great clubs.

Hawks in 6.


Muji said...

Scary stuff. If you died, you would have lived a life without seeing Connor McDavid (MCDAVID!!!) in an Oilers jersey. Glad you're okay!

And yay books!

muleson said...

Patty, I don't know you and I'm not Canadian and I don't play hockey but I love the game and I love your writing and I love reading your writing, both your blog and your tweets. Your tweet tonight with the picture of the note you left for your boy "Hawks 2 (Teuvo, Vermette), Tampa 1 (who cares)" made me lol. You're a genius, both literary and prognosticary - I know, not a word, but you know what I mean, as borne out by your prediction prior to this game that "Vermette and the young Finn" will help carry the Hawks to the Cup. I'm sure I speak for countless others, keep writing, keep sharing, keep doing what you're doing, it is appreciated.

Gord S. said...

I am one of two teams fighting for playoff pool money - I still have six Tampa Bay players left. I followed what you wrote on April 10... ;-)

When I look at records the big thing for me is goal differential. A team that is even or maybe even in the red is a team that I always avoid. The real heavyweights are the clubs that have a big goal differential. This may seem like common sense but I look at that even more than I look at a club's win loss record.

Black Dog said...

Oh yeah Gord I'm the same. GD is huge to me.

Black Dog said...

Thanks very much man, really appreciate the kind words.

Black Dog said...

Haha thanks and yes yay books indeed.

eastcoastoilfan said...

I turn 40 this year and you just scared the shit outta me. Glad to hear it was seemingly harmless. In the past year, about 4 people in my organization have been diagnosed with Cancer, it seems like every day that's what we talk about. Weighs on ya for sure.

What kinda work do ya do?

The Hawks are like a cockroach, you just can't kill 'em. Keith/Seabrook are amazing and superintendet Chalmerson ain't bad either. This team just has a winner's heart in so many key areas. I hope we can someday talk about the Oilers in such a way . Ya gotta think if they can ever figure out how to fill out the roster, it's possible in a few years.


Jana said...

The Commitments is one of my favourite movies (haven't read the book yet but I think I may have to). I both love it and hate the way it all falls apart.

Glad you're okay; the world is a better place with your blog in it.

Murat said...

Whoa, be well Pat. I saw on the Twitter that there is a possibility of beers with Dennis - you might want to go on some sort of Olympic training program to get ready for that one.

Or whatever one does when a Dennis is coming to town. I assume his drinking prowess can't be stopped - one can only hope to contain it (or not contain it, as the case may be.)

Black Dog said...

Thanks for the kind words Jana. And yes if you are a reader, read The Barrytown Trilogy, it's great.

eastcoast - yeah I went through that at that age, a sudden spate of illnesses, it's scary.

I work for a software company, herding nerds, no reason to get as stressed as I have put it that way.

Murat - I'm doomed :)