Can I Have a Nice Big Friendly Welcome to the Internet…

…for my friend Melissa?

If Al Gore and a dangerously uncritical way of thinking have taught me anything, it’s that he invented the Internet some time in 1994. Since then, people the world over have been amusing one another with LOLcats, hilariously awkward teenagers playing at being a Jedi warrior, and anonymously calling one another “douchebag”.  Oh, and looking at porn.  Lots and lots of porn.   You’re on your own for links to that last one.

Sadly almost entirely absent from all of those 17 years of e-hilarity, however, was my friend Melissa.  She was the only person I knew who didn’t have access to the Internet at her house.  Work blocks us out from all the educational stuff on the ‘Net – like this video of a baby laughing hysterically – so my friend missed out almost entirely on the finer things that teh Intarwebs have to offer.  It’s a wonder she was able to function in society, really.

Well, no more.  My friend Melissa is now hooked up.  I picture her sitting down at her newly installed home computer, freshly connected to the cable modem  in her house, clicking links furiously, trying like hell to catch up with the rest of us by reading the entire Internet.   Got an all time favourite Internet meme that my friend should have the pleasure of experiencing for the first time ever with Internet n00b eyes?  Drop a link in the comments!

In the meantime, let’s have some applause for my friend!


Categorized as humour

Stop the Internets, I Want to Get Off

I can’t stop laughing about this comment, a delectable treat appurtenant to another brilliant piece in today’s National Post by Sean McIndoe of Down Goes Brown fame.

DGB is always funny, and his piece in today’s Post is no exception.  Understand that I mean this when I tell you that notwithstanding DGB’s brilliance, the biggest and best laugh for me came after I happened to glance at the comments section (something I normally wouldn’t do at a newspaper site, for fear of having stupidity burrow through my eyes into my brain and turn me into a Hamilton City Councillor).

I’ve transcribed it here because I’m afraid the National Post will do a disservice to the history of humour in this country and consign this most excellent piece of humour writing to the digital dustbin.  In the piece, DGB sets out the good, the bad and the prognosis for ten currently unsigned free agents.  It features predictions that Darcy Tucker will sign with “Sami Kapanen’s sweat drenched nightmares” and opines that Anti Niemi was the “most over-rated Stanley Cup winning goalie in the entire league last year”.  Beneath DGB’s estimable roster of jokes, though, some ingenious wag has written:

“the most over-rated Stanley Cup winning goalie in the entire league last year.”

Now, I pride myself on knowing more than just a little about hockey having spent the last nearly 50 years involved in the sport….but please, educate me….how many other Stanley Cup winning goalies WERE there in the league last year?? I’m not arguing he was over-rated as surely this was just another example of a goalie getting hot at just the right time but please, this statement makes NO sense what-so-ever.

I love this comment as an exercise in humour writing.  It strikes the perfect balance of comic indignance, arrogance and full-throated idiocy.  Displaying a masterful talent,  the author delivers his belly laugh by crafting the comment in such a way that the “commenter” supposedly takes issue with the quality of analysis inherent in only one of DGB’s  jokes.  In this way, the author reveals indirectly that the commenter has  entirely missed the point, greatly enhancing the general comedic effect. The reader is left with the mental image of an arrogant and angry man who is prepared to accept that Mirsolav Satan was an “alternate on the NHL’s milennial all-Miroslav team” and that Jose Theodore tells “made up” stories about winning the Hart Trophy, but who will not let the Niemi analysis pass without an angry outburst.  Like I said, DGB’s piece had some great jokes in it, but this…this is something else.  It’s a masterpiece.  Only a talent of Leacockian proportions could concoct such a tremendous jest and then nestle it modestly and unceremoniously beneath the article, a comic delicacy awaiting your discovery as a hilarious and preposterous surprise.
It is made up, right?  No one actually mistook DGB’s piece for a regular sports article, right?

Invitation: The 2009-2010 Maple Leafs End of Season Banquet

Look what I found lying around yesterday…


March 25, 2010

Dear Valued Employee:

As a Toronto Maple Leaf player, you are invited to attend the annual Toronto Maple Leafs end-of-season banquet and awards ceremony.  This year, the banquet will be held on Saturday April 17th, 2010 at Jack Astor’s, unless of course we make the playoffs.  Ha ha, just kidding!  Seriously, though, the banquet is on the 17th at 7 p.m. sharp.

I’m not including a map to (or the address of) the specific Jack Astor’s restaurant we’re going to because it’s important that we keep the location of our team shindig confidential, to avoid having any unwanted guests.  In unrelated news, I’ve told Rickard Wallin (through a Swedish interpreter, he doesn’t read English) that we’ll be at Wendel Clark’s Classic Grille in Oakville.  He has been instructed to arrive early, demand to speak with the owner, and threaten him with trouble if we don’t enjoy our evening (which I have booked under the name “Fetisov”).  Don’t spoil the surprise for Ricky – remember how many stitches it took to close up the wound in Jason Blake’s face last year?  Oh, right, almost none of you were here for that.  Well trust me, it was good times.

The dinner menu at the actual, non-fake, banquet location includes: beef.  If you do not want to eat beef, or if you are a vegetarian or have other incorrect desires, let me just say that Edmonton gets pretty cold in the winter and – as incredible as it may sound – the Oilers are less likely than even us to win anything anytime soon. Jonas Gustavsson can have pickled herring, but only because he has a couple of doctor’s notes and I don’t like to get covered in exploding heart blood.  Remember, for this meal, the “Wellwood Rule” is in effect so portions will be limited to six servings of 48 oz. each.

After dinner of course, we’ll be handing out the end of season awards.  By tradition, your Master of Ceremonies will be the longest serving Leaf player, Tomas Kaberle.  As you know, also by tradition, the M.C. is ineligible to win any of the awards.  We offered to move Kabby out of that spot, but he insisted that he isn’t concerned about winning and wanted to stay (why does this sound familiar?);  in fact, he would like to MC both this year and next.  I can say that we’re prepared to meet him halfway on that one.

Awards to be presented this year include:

  • the David Williams Memorial “Mister Congeniality” Plaque (2010 recipient: Colton Orr – has anybody else noticed no one has disagreed with Colton about anything since he dummied Matt Carkner?);
  • the Wendel Clark “Most Valuable Player” Trophy (2010 recipient: Jeff Finger – shhh, don’t say anything, I’m talking trade with someone whose name rhymes with “Errol Flutter” and this MVP thing may get us Jarome Iginla and a pick); and
  • the Gary Leeman “Best Teammate” Prize (2010 recipient: former Leaf Vesa Toskala, in honour of the unremitting dedication to his craft he displayed.  He doesn’t know it yet, but Vesa will be in attendance at the Banquet courtesy of a burlap sack, some duct tape and the trunk of Jay Rosehill’s car.  Please note that this award will be presented posthumously and as soon as possible:  bring your own blunt object.)

After the awards ceremony, though it’ll be tough to top that last award, we’ll be moving to the entertainment portion of the evening.  Right now, the plan is for Phil Kessel, Nikolai Kulemin and Tyler Bozak to come up with something to dazzle us all. The rest of us will have to hope that’s enough.  So it’s pretty much business as usual.

Since he ought to contribute something to the team this year, Garnet Exelby will be responsible for bringing the beer.  When he screws that up, we’ll just buy some from the bar.  Please note that in view of the numerous unfortunate incidents resulting in so much broken glass at the goaltenders’ table last year, players are asked not to toss bottles to one another at any time.

Remember that while in attendance at this function, you are representing Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment and the Toronto Maple Leafs.  Be pleasant and respectful to the wait staff, bartenders and busboys, especially Boyd Devereaux and Justin Pogge.

Stay as late as you like, and enjoy yourself.  Our next meeting as a team will be in Los Angeles on draft day.  Maybe we can go to the zoo or something, we’ll have plenty of time on our hands.

Yours truly,

fake brian burke signature

Streak Over

Readers of this blog familiar with the extent of my corpulence, not to mention enemies of upchucking everywhere, will be relieved to hear that the above title refers to the end of my recent “consecutive days with a blog post” streak rather than the termination of any spirited au naturel sprint down the hiways and biways of Juniorvania.

I didn’t manage to get a blog post finished before midnight yesterday, so history will reflect my failure to tell you anything new or funny on this site on March 24th, 2010. Well, you know what? History can go fuck itself, I was busy dammit.  I am sorry, history, but you are starting to piss me off.  You are always standing behind me.  That is just weird.  Also, have you noticed, history, that you are always repeating yourself?  That is an annoying trait, history.  It was vaguely cute at first, but now you’re just that “you can call me Ray….but you doesn’t has to call me Johnson” guy.  Oh, and history?  You haven’t changed a bit in a long time – not since George W. Bush was President and people were less hung up about “facts” and “accuracy”.  Remember how dynamic you were back then, history? You didn’t insist on typecasting Franklin Delano Roosevelt as the President who guided America to a recovery from the Great Depression;  instead, he could be a cruel and stupid villain who actually prolonged it. The point is,  I liked “fluid history” much better than “static history” – for instance, remember that time that George W. Bush and his peace-loving hippie friends came to power as a result of an undisputed landslide?  Yeah, well, douchebag buzzkill static History wants to remind everybody that it didn’t happen.  Way to trash the vibe, bro.  Like yellow cake uranium and Iraq are any fucking fun.

Anyway, Wednesday evening was spent cobbling together the most recent installment of my “Good News” series for posting over at Maple Leafs Hot Stove. They keep doing things like “including me in discussions about writing things for the site,” so I kind of feel like I need to chip in a few hundred words every now and then so I can justify hanging out in the lunch room and sucking back all the free coffee.

Two funny things I learned today yesterday DAMMIT HISTORY THAT’S ENOUGH OUT OF YOU:

  1. If you go to the Maple Leafs Hot Stove site and type “good news” into the search engine box, the hilariously funny MLHS server (which was obviously wired up by a Habs fan) will tell you, “I’m sorry, what you were looking for cannot be found.”  Well, at least that’s what the MLHS server used to tell you, until  I asked a new intern in the HiR:tb IT department, a very belligerent fellow by the name of Colton Orr, to look into this problem for me.  It has since been corrected.  In unrelated news, there is very large pile of twisted metal in the MLHS server room;
  2. On Monday, I put up a 1,300 word post that took me two days to write;  it contained roughly six hundred and thirty-eight reasonably amusing  jokes on the subject of Donald Fehr’s possible appointment as the new Executive Director of the NHLPA; that post was commented upon by exactly one person.  On Tuesday, I put up a ten-word post that contained precisely one joke concerning the suitability of a certain songbird for the proper manufacture of bacon.  It elicited four responses.  Conclusion, according to my understanding of the data emerging from these analytics: you want fewer words, much more heavily weighted on a proportional basis to the subject of pork products.

Also, just in case you were wondering, there are no dead mice in our house.  That we’re aware of.  Henry will keep us all posted.

Predictions: Donald Fehr and the NHLPA

Hail to the Chief!
Hail to the Chief!

There was a report on TSN’s website Sunday night that the National Hockey League Players’ Association is preparing to offer Donald Fehr the top job with the union.  Those of you following along at home will recall that the last fellow who was hired to do this job, Paul Kelly, was comically and hilariously quite suddenly fired after less than two years on the job – for no particular reason that anyone could put their finger on.  Mr. Fehr, before he became a grumpy retired person, was the Executive Director of the Major League Baseball Players’ Association from 1986 to 2009, and that just went swimmingly for everybody concerned.

What can we expect if Donald Fehr  becomes the next Executive Director of the NHLPA?  I fed the relevant data into the Digital Overlord (the Silicon-based lifeform in whose home Spouse and I reside, and at whose direction and behest we perform all functions in meatspace), let its hard drives, LEDs and assorted geegaws whirr away for an hour or two, and then retrieved the following scientifically guaranteed predictions concerning future events in the NHL:

  1. April 1st, 2010 (morning):  ESPN reports Donald Fehr officially announced as new Executive Director of the NHLPA.   For two hours, National Hockey League President Gary Bettman refuses to believe that this announcement is anything but a cruel April Fool’s joke, just like that time that Sports Illustrated published the story about Sidd Finch.  After lunch, Bill Daly arrives and shows Bettman a copy of the story confirming Fehr’s hiring in the New York Times.  Realizing the story is true, Bettman pees a little on his fancy President chair, hops down from it and runs into the Executive Washroom.  He refuses to come out of the bathroom for six hours.  League staff swear that, through the heating vents, they can hear someone sobbing and cursing Eric Lindros’ name.
  2. April 1st, 2010 (afternoon): Fehr gives an interview to Stephen Brunt of the Globe and Mail.  Brunt asks Fehr what reason he had for changing his mind about retirement.  Fehr says, “I’m only 62 years old;  I wasn’t ready to spend my time  playing golf in Vegas with a bunch of ninety-year old men.”
  3. April 2nd, 2010: Fehr takes a congratulatory call from recently-elected Atlanta Thrashers Player Representative Chris Chelios, who inquires about getting together for a round after the NHL Awards.  For the first time, Fehr wonders if he’s made a horrible mistake.
  4. September 1st, 2010: At the end of his first month in office, Fehr declares himself “up to speed” on the business of hockey and calls a press conference.   He publicly denounces the league in general and Commissioner Bettman in particular for wrongfully depriving players of their rightful share of vast sums of money earned by the league from the U.S. Network television deal.  “Obviously,” Fehr is quoted as saying, “that pittance that Versus is paying the league can’t be the only national TV revenue coming in from all of America.  I mean, come on;  Versus isn’t even a real network.” He goes on to point out that NHL games also appear on NBC, and says the players don’t seem to be getting their share of any NBC rights money, saying.  “It’s NBC;  they’ve gotta be paying the league something, right?”  Entire room bursts into laughter;  Fehr looks confused and storms out.
  5. September 2, 2010: Previously cozy relationship between the NHLPA and NHL is torn asunder.   Bettman is deeply offended by the allegations of deceit and will not return Fehr’s phone calls.  As a result, a work stoppage ensues.  For six continuous weeks, Fehr’s own staff work daily to convince him that the Versus revenues really are the only U.S. TV money.  When he finally comes to the realization that this is true, a further six weeks of work stoppage follow merely because Fehr does not want to apologize to Bettman.  “After all,” he confides to an assistant, “if I say I’m sorry, I’m just going to have to sit next to that fucking guy at the All-Star Game.”
  6. October 16th, 2010: Plans to accuse NHL owners of colluding with one another to artificially depress the free agency market are scrapped when Fehr – who has still never even been to a hockey game – learns that in the summer of 2009, the Montreal Canadiens agreed to pay 35 year-old defenceman Jaroslav Spacek $3.8 million dollars a year, for each of the next three years, to not score any points for their team.  Fehr, who knows so little about hockey that he calls goalies “backcatchers”, immediately calls Bob Gainey’s number.  When Gainey answers, Fehr simply says, “You’re a fucking idiot,” and hangs up.  Coincidentally and unbeknownst to Fehr, this is the 215th consecutive day on which Gainey has received such a phone call.
  7. November 1st, 2010: NHLPA Player reps, concerned about previous incidents in which union leadership surreptitiously read their personal correspondence, conduct a secret surprise inspection of Fehr’s office and computer.  They are relieved to find that Fehr has not had access to any player email.  They are, however, disturbed to learn that he has apparently been spending seven to ten hours a day on, and Craigslist.  Worse still, they find a partially completed job application in his name that appears to come from the Starbucks across the street.
  8. December 22nd, 2010: Fehr is photographed sitting on the lap of a shopping mall Santa Claus;  bystanders swear that he was overheard asking Santa for an important job in  a more popular and widely known sport, like maybe the B.A.S.S. Pro Tour, the Pro Bowler’s Association or the National Pinochle Tour.
  9. March 1st, 2011: Concerns that the NHL’s new “head shot” rules would be difficult for officials to enforce prove unfounded when it is announced that the cranial circumference of all NHL players has increased by 50%.  Players’ heads become impossible to miss, obscuring many fans’ view of the video scoreboard above centre ice, and all body contact is eliminated from the game entirely.  Fehr declares the NHL’s substance abuse policies a success, excuses himself from the press conference and goes to work at his other job: selling popcorn at the Cineplex Odeon.
  10. March 15th, 2011, 11:39 p.m: Fehr is invited to attend a hastily-called meeting in Rome, New York that he is told is intended to celebrate the 1st anniversary of his hiring.  He points out to one of the fellows in the room – a guy that he hasn’t seen around the office before, but who looks suspiciously like Eric Lindros – that he hasn’t worked for the PA for a year yet.  Other players keep referring to this guy as “Brutus” and laughing.  A group of player reps approach him from behind and begin patting him – perhaps a bit too vigorously – on the back.  Fehr wakes up in the emergency room with several knives protruding from his back and a crumpled pink slip in his hand.  The fellow they kept calling “Brutus” is having a conversation with one of the E.R. doctors and is insisting that since Obamacare got passed, there must be a death panel that could “take care” of the guy he brought in.  Doctors refuse to comply with the man’s request, but do insist that Fehr get off the gurney and work his scheduled evening shift emptying bed pans in the geriatric ward.
  11. March 16th, 2011: Fehr attempts to send his letter of official resignation to interim executive director Eric Lindros, but learns that Lindros has himself been deposed by a heretofore unknown faction of Sandanista guerillas within the NHLPA.  That faction was replaced an hour later by Fidel Castro, who lasted fifteen minutes until he was himself replaced by a particularly militant Bobby Orr-emblazoned thermos that had been stored in an office closet since 1971.

Stinky Tim’s, a Called Shot and Spouse

Last evening, I had to take a trip in to Cambridge to pick up some suits that I had purchased there a couple of days before. Spouse had been off work for most of Monday and all of Tuesday (she has apparently spontaneously developed a case of the Bubonic Plague). She claimed, despite the occasional hacking cough and her generally mucous filled aspect, to be feeling much improved in the early evening hours last night . She insisted on coming with me for the drive. It was a beautiful sunny spring-like day, and I didn’t see a distinct difference, from a medical treatment point of view, between “Spouse slumped on the couch in front of the TV, oozing phlegm” and “Spouse slumped in the passenger seat, oozing phlegm”, so I agreed.

Stop one on the way to “oore’s” (the “M” had blown down during Sunday’s windstorm) in Cambridge was our local Tim Horton’s. Those of you who follow me on Twitter (where my user name is warwalker) may have some familiarity with this particular location, as it seems to be a recurring theme in my “tweets.” We call it “Stinky Tim’s” because the neighbour’s property seems to have some sort of a problem with their septic tank, with the predictably odiferous consequences; the stench is greater or lesser, depending upon the prevailing meteorological conditions, but it is usually only problematic when one is sitting in the drive-thru lane, which borders directly on the property in question. Despite its olfactory woes, we quite like Stinky Tim’s, and will regularly bypass other Horton’s locations en route to our home to go to that specific location; I can’t explain it other than to say that it’s in the neighbourhood, feels like it’s the meeting place for all our neighbours, and it seems to otherwise provide us with endless entertainment. One night, for example, on the way home from some work related function, Spouse and I stopped in much later than we ordinarily would. Things were different right from the start: it took an unusually long time for the attendant to greet us and inquire as to our order; it took an inordinately long amount of time to explain, re-explain and further re-explain my order of “two steeped teas with one milk in each and a medium-sized box of Timbits”, which the said attendant had somehow garbled (twice) to relate to two medium coffees and a Boston Cream donut. When I had completed walking the attendant, step-by-step, through the list of items desired for the third time and was invited to “drive up”, Spouse and I looked at each other doubtfully. In the time between leaving the place where we placed our order (peeps with knowledge of drive thru terminology – is there a name for that place?) and arriving at the pickup window, Spouse and I concluded that our server was likely intoxicated. A quick conversation at the pickup window – during which it was revealed that there was still some profound uncertainty on our server’s part as to the items desired – did little to revise our opinion. Very shortly thereafter, he delivered to us the aforementioned two steeped teas and a medium-sized box of Timbits that was absolutely stuffed with Timbits. I’m not kidding, this box – which customarily would contain something on the order of 40 tasty little doughnut holes – had been packed, stuffed and jammed beyond belief, to the point that there were really no longer individual Timbits inside, but instead a multi-flavoured doughy brick weighing some four to five pounds. It was ridiculous. I tweeted to my followers that the pickup window at my local Tim’s was “paying off like a loose Vegas slot machine”, urging those interested to depart post-haste for the location in question.

Anyway, to get back to the point of my pointless story, we stopped in to Stinky Tim’s last evening to pick up a couple of cups of tea for the drive to Cambridge. Those of you in Canada will already know that Horton’s is currently running their annual “Roll Up the Rim to Win” promotion (specially printed paper cups sold with coffee and tea purchases each include a chance for the purchaser to win prizes, with the result being revealed by unrolling the upper rim of the cup – prizes range from free product at Horton’s locations, to computers and vehicles).   Those of you who aren’t Canadian may have difficulty understanding this, but Roll up the Rim to Win is a very big deal up here;  most Canadians know at least as much, if not more, about when this promotion starts and ends as they do about the NCAA March Madness Tournament schedule.  Most of us also keep a pretty careful watch on our personal win/loss record at Roll Up the Rim.  This year, Spouse and I have been on a relative hot streak vis-a-vis this promotion; at one point, I had collected 3 winners in my first 7 purchases (for some folks, this would just be another line on the resumé, but I like to think that I am an ambassador of sorts for the competition) – all of which were for a free beverage. As we were going through the drive through this time (word to the wise Timbit shopper: all staff appeared to be sober on this occasion), Spouse opined that she wanted to “win something different.” In particular, she said as she received her steaming hot cup of tea, she wanted to win “a donut”.

I could not let this pass, despite her illness. I took her to task for addressing the fates and identifying, among all the possible prizes that might be delivered, a donut worth approximately forty cents (retail) as her desired windfall. “Attention, Gods in Charge of Dead Hockey Player Donut Store Promotions,” she had said, “I would vastly prefer to win a forty cent donut over a thirty thousand dollar car.”

I’ll give you three guesses what the Donut Gods delivered.  I’ll give you a hint: I’m thinking about making another late-night run to the Drive Thru and collecting that Boston Cream this time around.

What Senators Fans and Spouse Had to Say About the Game

Both Kidkawartha (via Twitter) and MattBlack (via the Pension Plan Puppets FTB links roundup) recommended to all Leaf fans a reading of the comments in the Silver Seven Sens game thread. It is sage and wise advice, gratefully accepted and immediately productive this morning of several out-loud guffaws hereabouts.  The game thread is a written record of the comments made by those inhabiting the Senators-themed blog thread dedicated to the Senators/Leafs game on Saturday night.  The Senators, of course, came into the night with high expectations.  Rested and rolling (they had Friday night off and were on an 11-game win streak), they and their fans looked forward to making some sort of a claim to bragging rights in this year’s version of the Battle of Ontario.  By comparison, in the previous day or so, the Leafs had travelled to and from Newark, had there put in 57 solid minutes of work before coughing up 3 goals in as many minutes to lose 4-3 in heartbreaking fashion, and had received news of the passing of their General Manager’s son.

Happily for all fans of the Blue and White, it was the Leafs who showed up ready for the most recent installment of the Battle of Ontario.  They ran the Senators out of the building, quickly and efficiently, much to the despair of Senators fans everywhere.

Following along with the game’s progress in the aforementioned game thread is an exercise in comparative anthropology:  whereas ordinary human beings experience “reality”, we are able to learn that Senators fans enjoy a rich and imaginative fantasy world of their own invention.  In this charming, but barely recognizable version of the world :

Menagerie: Rogue Snake Department

Judging by the beret, this particular criminal must be French.

Let’s play a little game, shall we?  Why don’t you tell me what species of reptile you see coiled in the leaves in the picture below.  I should mention that the little cretin was, um, what’s the word, “rattling” his tail when discovered.   By “discovered”, of course, I mean “nearly trod upon” during a brief late-morning survey Spouse and I conducted of the western environs of Juniorvania;  tramping about in the brush is a lovely way to spend some time in the warm sun of a mid-November forenoon, cup of tea in hand – provided, of course, that one’s woodsy saunter is not interrupted by pestilential menaces and assorted blackguards of the animal kingdom intent on doing you in.    My perambulations seemed to disturb our most recently discovered visitor, as Spouse advises me that the vicious little scoundrel actually struck at my pant leg as I strode through his immediate vicinity, blissfully unaware of the potentially mortal threat currently attempting to assassinate me.

Let’s make an identification, you amateur herpatologists:  tell me what sort of a beast you think it was that made such a brazen attempt upon my life.   Take a close look at the markings.   Remember, if you will, the rattling of the tail;  it’s difficult to forget, I can assure you, for those who have had occasion to make the personal acquaintance of this little villainous bastard.   The taxonomic process ought to be a little less stressful for you to do in the comfort of your own presumably adder-free home than it was for me during my dangerous, death-defying afternoon stroll among the serpentine assassins concealed around the perimeter of Juniorvania with evil in their repitlian hearts.   It will be easier for you to summon up Google and tap-tap-tap a couple of keystrokes,  possibly noshing on a little snack, as you idly venture a guess about the identity of my would-be killer.

Things were considerably less serene here as we embarked upon the process, I can tell you.  It involved rather a lot more screaming than I suspect most professional biologists employ during the conduct of their work, which screaming was spiced with a liberal dose of anxious profanity.  Still, we managed to get the photo and avoid entirely a trip to hospital, so all’s well that end’s well I suppose.  Except of course that somehow, during the identification process, the pint-sized terrorist managed to flee the scene of the crime and remains at large, a fugitive from Juniorvanian justice.  No doubt the little miscreant is plotting his next murderous escapade, so visitors to these parts should consider security precautions and have an eye to the ground when travelling alone.

He may be small, but he's a criminal.
He may be small, but he's a criminal.
20091122_What Kind of Snake_0796
If you look closely at the bottom of the picture, under the leaf in the middle, you can see the rattling thing on the end of the rattling thing.

Talkin’ Bout a Revolution, it Sounds Like a Twitter

Will Tweet For Food
Will Tweet For Food

There’s a revolution coming, people. Not the “We’d like to sell you some mutual funds by incorporating music that used to be subersive into our otherwise non-threatening and highly establishment-based  television ad” kind of revolution.  Not the kind that requires a lot of marching with torches, either (which is good, because it’s been a wet summer, making serviceably dry torch wood difficult to find, and quite frankly, I’m just a little too bushed to be marching about prattling on about brotherhood and equality while singing full-throated anthems and such).  No, not that one either;  that happened, it was fun, and we all got nice t-shirts out of it.

Not to go all Tracy Chapman on you, but I’m talking ’bout a revolution that sounds like a twitter.

The new media, and in particular Twitter, is going to change the way that large organizations communicate with individuals.   It’s going to have serious implications for the way teams like the Maple Leafs – and their players – relate to the fans.

In and around the free agency period, for example, I had a feeling that Brian Burke would be signing Francois Beauchemin.  Incidentally, it is entirely possible that I picked up on that idea at least somewhat by reading Leafs-related chatter on Twitter, I don’t know; I can’t say for sure.  In any event, though, using the excellent interface TweetDeck (basically a supercharged Twitter client/browser that allows you to open multiple Twitter streams at once), I kept tabs on a number of potential Leaf-related developments by opening columns designed to stream tweets containing certain words.  One of these was a search for “beauchemin“.  The columns continually updated as people from all over sent out their thoughts and information concerning the big defenceman.  For a day or two, much of the chatter was simply conjecture about the possibility of  Happy Trails signing with this or that NHL team;  there came a point, though, when the information being exchanged started strongly suggesting that he would imminently become a Leaf.  The tweets began to fly fast and furious, and not very long after, I learned – via a 140 character (or less) tweet – that Beauchemin was coming to Toronto.

In seconds, I was “re-tweeting” the information to the folks who were following me, and watching the information disseminate further like concentric circles on a pond as my tweet alerted others on the network of the news.  fascinating stuff, and a definite game changer when you consider that only 40 years ago, the interested consumer of this knowledge would have had to wait for the morning paper to arrive on his or her doorstep.   Not long after that, Brian Burke was confirming the signing at a press conference.  My point is that because of Twitter, there doesn’t need to be any newspaper or conventional news gathering organization involved in the dissemination of this information.

enough already

The implications for large organizations wishing to push their message out to the populace are stunningly obvious.  Well, stunningly obvious that is, to every organization except MLSE, which has had certain well poorly documented problems in the past with Twitter.  Quite apart from the “Brian Burke” fiasco though, MLSE has now apparently hired HAL 9000’s autistic cousin to robo-tweet, in hyper-annoying fashion, the same repetitive and dated messages over and over again to the increasingly exasperated masses.  This is the approximate digital equivalent, in old media terms, of sending Mr. Whipple to your house to berate you for squeezing the Charmin, pee on your floor and punch your dog in the face.

It’s probably safe to assume, then, that the suits at MLSE aren’t exactly ahead of the curve on integrating a medium like this into the daily life of the team, and  it remains to be seen how the team will handle it once that robot is given a proper sendoff.

Even more interesting will be watching teams like the Leafs deal – or attempt to do so – with the players in the locker room tweeting away, communicating directly with fans via a service like this.  This is an issue that the Leafs will have to deal with this year, as Mike Komisarek is a Twitter user.  Komikazi tweeted tonight that he had received some good medical news and expected his shoulder to be fully recovered in time to begin training camp.  Reading this tweet left me with a sense of some connection, some almost direct connection with the player.  I didn’t read a quote from Komisarek about his shoulder that had been chosen by a newspaper writer who had decided to write about the subject;  Komi told me, matter of fact.  It’s the next best thing to him calling up and leaving a message on my voicemail.

I wonder, though, whether there will be a struggle to come between management and players about the use of a service like this.  MLSE is an organization that labours mightily to try and maintain control over the message being disseminated about the Maple Leaf brand, and it is an organization that is very well positioned to do so, having access to the video production and broadcast facilities of Leafs television, on-air talent on staff, etc.  It remains to be seen how tolerant the NHL in general and Leaf management in particular will be about tweets emanating from the dressing room;  I suspect that it won’t be long before a fun-killing directive or policy is developed on this.  The potential for problems, or at least things that have in the past been perceived as problems, is enormous:  consider a player warring with his coach tweeting from the locker room during an intermission, complaining to his fans about not getting icetime on the powerplay.  Imagine the fans getting behind their disgruntled hero and chanting for him as the next period begins.  Tensions between the coach and player go up as the coach has to decide whether to give the fans what they want or keep the player riding the pine.

Even in the absence of conflicts such as the above, the simple fact is that – as more and more players begin  talking for themselves in this way –  fans will become less and less likely to care what the “official” MLSE website, spokesperson or twitter feed says;  why would we spend time digesting that content when we can get our information fix directly from the horse’s mouth?  Perhaps more than any other single factor, this dynamic – driving interest to player accounts rather than team/organizational outlets – will provoke a reaction from NHL teams.  These teams, after all, are in the entertainment business;  sooner or later, they will realize that their audience is generating traffic that’s going “off campus” and by definition isn’t helping them sell tickets, sweaters and bobbleheads.  Expect the “twitter” issue to be part of the next CBA negotiations.

It’ll be a shame for the fans when the orders do come down for players to cease and desist.  In the meantime, imagine the fun of sitting in the seats at the ACC and getting updates on your mobile phone from one or more of the players in the locker room during an intermission: “Interview with HNIC a godsend;  Kabby’s shinpads stink” or “Stajan just took a wad of tape in the face,”  or “Holy crap, Wilson bitch-slapped Jamal Mayers.  I am hiding in the shower.”

Portrait of the Artist as a Wrung Man

I have been working all day on a writing project that is due shortly.  The “writing process” (by which I mean “staring at the screen wondering what the hell I’ve gottem myself into”)  was going painfully slow a bit earlier,  so Spouse convinced me to take a break to go into town.  We had dry cleaning to pick up and it just so happens that there’s this little ice cream stand right next door to the shop.

Admit it: you thought this paragraph was going to be about me getting ice cream all over the dry cleaning, didn’t you?  Sorry to disappoint – all clothing has successfully been retrieved from the cleaners and is safely back inside the house with little or no additional patina of melted ice cream.  I am an idiot;  just not that kind of idiot.

While we were driving back home, I mentioned that I needed to repair to Mission Control with all due haste, so that I could “art my writicle.”

Oh dear.  This might be tougher than previously expected.