Jason Blake: When More is Less

Tonight, over at Pension Plan Puppets, in the Leafs/Bruins live game thread, mf37 posted some numbers about Jason Blake’s shooting percentage.  Essentially, the stats indicated that, between 2003 and 2007 (i.e. during his final seasons with the Islanders), Blake’s shooting percentage doubled (and in ’07 nearly tripled) over his then current career average.  Since joining the Leafs (and signing a hefty five-year contract – curse you, JFJ!) his shooting percentage has dropped to a number so low, you’d think it was expressing a person’s chance of getting hit by lightning while winning the lottery, being abducted by our alien overlords and riding a three-legged dog backwards to a nineteen length Triple Crown victory.

It got me thinking…

Observed phenomenon: Jason Blake takes a lot of shots from “the perimeter”, which is a polite way of saying that he was standing in the parking lot and unable to directly observe his intended target at the time of launching.

Known facts, and important (but blindingly obvious) inference to be drawn from them: NHL goalies (with the lamentable and all-too obvious exception of Andrew Raycroft) are not blind.  Most of them (again, except for Raycroft) have the ability to exert some amount of control over the movement of their extremities.  As a result, NHL goaltenders only infrequently whiff on shots taken from different continents.  Shooting from long distances is not, therefore, an effective strategy of scoring goals.

Statistical evidence:

This is what hockey-reference.com has to say about what Jason Blake has done in his career, in terms of offensive performance:

Season Team GP SOG/G S Pct. AVG TOI
1998-99 Los Angeles Kings 1 5 20 17:13
1999-00 Los Angeles Kings 64 2.05 3.8 11:17
2000-01 L.A./NY Islanders. 47 2.13 5 13:40
2001-02 New York Islanders 82 1.66 5.9 12:54
2002-03 New York Islanders 81 3.12 9.9 17:38
2003-04 New York Islanders 75 3.24 9.1 18:49
2005-06 New York Islanders 76 4 9.2 18:47
2006-07 New York Islanders 82 3.72 13.1 18:09
2007-08 Toronto Maple Leafs 82 4.05 4.5 17:49
2008-09 Toronto Maple Leafs 13 4.07 3.8 16:35
Career 3.08 8.1 16:22

Legend: GP = Games Played, SOG/G=Shots on Goal per game, S Pct.=Shooting Percentage, AVG TOI=Average time on ice.

Throw out the ’98-99 season (small sample size) and this year (small sample, incomplete data), and you’re left with 8 (more or less) complete seasons to consider.  Here’s what I noticed:  beginning in 2002, Blake’s average time on the ice per game goes way up – increasing by almost 40% from about 13 minutes a game in ’01/’02 to almost 18 minutes a game in ’02-’03.  Also in 2002, the goals start to bang home for Jason, as his shooting percentage jumps to 9.9%;  prior to that, Blake was lighting the lamp at something like a 4 to 6% clip.  Blake’s average ice time stays pretty steady, from then on, in the 18-19 minutes per game region.

Now look at what happens to his shots on goal per game.  That figure jumps from a career low 1.66 per game in  ’01-’02 to 3.12 per game the very next season – the same season his average icetime increases by 40% per game.

What the numbers show is that beginning in 2002/03, Blake was spending about 40% more time on the ice than he had before, but he began shooting the puck about twice as often as in the past.  That’s a lot of extra shots, proportionally, to fit into the extra ice time.  For a few years with the Islanders, it seems to have worked out because he was scoring goals roughly twice as often too, at the 9 – 13% clip.

Consider these numbers in the context of a hypothesis:  a tired skater is more likely to shoot the puck from a long distance. Rather than skate and drive towards the net, a fatigued player will – more often than not – elect to shoot from where he is when he receives the puck.

Blake is playing about just a bit less now than he did in his final years with the Islanders (the years of 9-13% shooting success).  He is shooting the puck about the same number of times, on average, if not a little bit more.  We have observed that – since he’s been in Toronto, anyway – he frequently shoots the puck from long distances.  It is unlikely that Blake was shooting from these distances while in Long Island;  it simply beggars belief that they’d be going in as frequently as they did for him;  it would take a major league marathon of sustained and repeated whiffage by a series of goaltenders, over a period of four years, for that to be true.   The key point is this – the long shots we’ve seen Blake take as a Leaf aren’t being taken in addition to the blasts he habitually took when he was an Islander.

Rather, I think the data suggest that Blake is currently replacing shots from closer in to the net  (i.e the quality shots he took as an Islander) with long distance bombs that have little or no chance of success.  One obvious explanation for that phenomenon is related to the “tired players take long shots” theory.  In short, the numbers suggest that  – now in his mid 30s, and with well-documented health concerns – Blake may well not be up to the challenge physically, and that fatigue or lack of conditioning is preventing him from scoring at the rate he previously did.

Discuss.  Am I missing something?

On Fanhood

I happened to be watching the Leafs on Hockey Night in Canada while milling about more or less aimlessly in a “live” game thread on the Pension Plan Puppets site.   Basically, I hung out in a virtual basement (I don’t know if it was Chemmy’s or P3’s house) with a bunch of my fellow Leaf fans and we watched the game together.   None of us knew what was about to unfold:  after a spirited but unlucky opening two stanzas, and trailing 2-0 going in to the third, Toronto seemed more or less resigned to their fate throughout the first ten minutes of the period.  Then, boosted by a terrific performance by rookie John Mitchell, they scored five goals in five minutes and twenty-two seconds to win the game 5-2.

Folks in the virtual rec room were pretty excited, and I could see on TV that the fans at the Air Canada Centre were stoked too;  they gave the Leafs an enthusiastic standing ovation in the final minute of play.  It was great to see the folks in the building – which is often a monument to corporate reserve, especially in the platinum seating area close to the ice surface – get up and wave their arms, pound their hands together, and generally scream their fool heads off because they were excited by their team’s performance.

The events of last night, along with the official commencement of the Revolution of the Barilkosphere earlier this week, have gotten me thinking a little bit about the nature of fan-dom. The Revolution was provoked by the most recent cut-and-paste, written-with-a-crayon-and-little-or-no-forethought, blame-the-fans for the hockey team’s problems article.  Here’s a sampling of Berger’s most recent instantiation of this “argument”:

Arguably the worst team in the National Hockey League since the lockout continues to be the most lucrative commodity on skates. Even the tall foreheads at Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment have seemingly thrown in the towel on their annual dissing of Forbes Magazines’ NHL value rankings. Normally, by the evening of the announcement, CEO Richard Peddie is on record suggesting that no person outside the hallowed halls of the Air Canada Centre could possibly have a line on the Leafs’ monetary worth. This is either an effort to keep the tax people at bay, or to avoid laughing out loud at the sheep that form the lifeblood of the company.

Yes, that is YOU, Leafs Nation.

An insatiable willingness to accept whatever garbage is tossed your way each year lines the pockets of the executives you purportedly “hate” [I see that word a lot in my e-mails]. No form of indignity is powerful enough to dissuade you from the uncontrollable love of your Blue & White. You bitch… and moan… and go insane over the always-accurate appraisals of the team in the media. Depending on the hour of day, you either castigate or lionize members of the hockey club — often the same player. The familiar disappointment of missing the playoffs on April 8th is washed away with delusional fantasies by April 9th. And, always, you are there to buy every ticket; purchase every jersey; watch every game on TV; lose your mind over every word written and spoken about the team [the part I like best], and generally cradle the habit you have no power to temper, let alone break. You are, by any measure, the most easily placated fans in all of sport — rivaled only by the zombie-like baseball fanatics on the north side of Chicago.

This line of thinking (is there such a thing as a “line of ranting”?  That seems to me a more apt comparison) suffers from a fundamentally flawed premise in terms of its economic reasoning – as Sean at Down Goes Brown has ably pointed out.  It also attributes certain behaviours to Leaf fans that don’t bear any resemblance to reality;  to say that anybody who follows the team this year is having “delusional fantasies” is itself (ironically) a delusional fantasy; to say that expectations for this year’s team are low even among Leaf fans is a massive understatement.  Heck, even the Leaf-o-centric media gadflys at Cox Bloc picked them to finish “at or near the bottom” of the entire league.  I haven’t heard a single person of any persuasion opine that the Leafs would challenge for the Cup.  I can’t even think of anyone I personally know who’s been willing to wager that they’d make the playoffs.   Quite the contrary, I think the general perception – at least around the Barilkosphere – was that the Leafs would lose a LOT of games this year;  this would happen because the team was thought not to have much talent, and what talent it possessed was believed to be trade bait for prospects and draft picks as part of a quest to rebuild, and maybe to draft John Tavares next June.

The Linguistics of Cereal

Taking a break from my Air Traffic Control duties for a moment, I was munching away on some breakfast cereal yesterday. I had let my eyes wander to the side of the cereal box on the table in front of me, and I had drifted into that eyeshoneynut glazed over, staring into the half-distance kind of reverie that characterizes so much of my best cogitation. As such, I suppose I sub-consciously knew that something of a revelation was likely to be shortly forthcoming. And behold:

In Canada, the country from which (owing to certain geographic peculiarities) most Juniorvanian staples are imported, there are laws that require all packaging – like, say a cereal box – to be bilingual. What my eyes were staring at, but not really seeing, was this: “Honey Nut Cheerios” are known in French as “Cheerios aux miel et au noix”. Something about that struck me as odd, and I began to mull more aggressively. “Cheerios aux miel et au noix” seemed like a rather clunky handle, one that was an obvious transliteration, stinking rather obviously of the work of a regulatory compliance lawyer. It doesn’t have the lyrical beauty one would expect had it been dreamed up by a marketing executive; far from rolling off the tongue, it kind of spills onto the floor like so much fumbled flatware, clattering noxiously in an otherwise perfect silence.

In that moment, I saw one simple truth. If I were French, rather than having to flex and contort my mouth around “Cheerios aux miel et aux noix”, I would say fuck it and go with Chex instead.

Fire up the Reel to Reel

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Reading Mike’s short post today about his jury duty tomorrow and his plans to build a lens adapter for his camera, I found myself thinking about my grandfather for a little while.  Let me explain:  my Dad’s father was what we would now call an “early adopter” of technology.  He did television repair work before most people owned them;  he had camera equipment capable of taking and projecting colour home movies in the 40’s, and he was very proud of his Hi-Fi stereo system – much of which was home built.  I don’t know if it’s nature or nurture, but my father, my brothers and I have all followed along a similar path:  much to the chagrin of our various significant others, our respective homes are filled with equipment that needs to be plugged in;  that beeps, whirrs, flashes and hums;  and most of all, that is connected to other such devices by wires.  Though the tech is different, the thrill is no doubt the same;  looking back on it now, I can revel in my grandfather’s geekdom much as I revel in my own.

I think the reason this thought occurred to me following my visit to Mike’s page is that I suddenly saw the similarities between my own daily virtual journey into Mike’s life via the Internet and what my grandfather used to do:  he used to basically record voice letters on reel to reel audio tape and send them by mail (the kind with stamps and dog-fearing letter carriers) to a friend in Australia, if I remember correctly.  They corresponded in this fashion for years.  I can remember him carefully unwrapping a box containing a fresh tape and eagerly heading downstairs to his basement sanctuary, then sitting in a beat-up old reclining chair,  bottle of beer on the TV dinner table next to it, listening to the voice coming out of the speakers as the reels rolled steadily on.  When I was a kid, I thought it was kind of quirky – none of the other grownups I knew spent time recording their thoughts on tape and mailing them halfway across the world – but I was more focussed on the microphones and the reel-to-reel machines (shiny tech!) than on what was going on.  I guess I kind of half-heartedly wondered what he and his friend could possibly think of to talk about – complete strangers so far removed from each other by geography and circumstance, engaged in a series of alternating monologues.

See the parallels yet?

My grandfather didn’t live long enough to see the emergence and prevalence of personal computers in the home, but he would have loved the technology and the community of technophiles for which it provides a home.   I wish I’d had a chance to talk with him about it, as I’m sure he would have had some interesting thoughts to offer.  The only thing missing for me, as I sit here with the notebook computer on my lap and the wireless card granting me access to the router upstairs  and ultimately the Intartubes,  sharing this little corner of my life with Mike (and anyone else who cares to read), is the bottle of beer.  I can remedy that lickety-split;  as soon as I hit “publish” on this entry, I’m going to head to the fridge, grab a cold Alexander Keith’s, crack it open and drink a toast to grandpa.

In the meantime, Mike, I hope you manage to avoid getting selected, but I’m very interested to hear what your thoughts are about going through the jury selection process.  And this lens adapter thing is also intriguing to me;  I must know more…

Stop! In the Name of Inevitability…

Since reclaiming my driver’s licence about a year ago – no, I didn’t lose it because of a DUI, it just lapsed because….well, that’s a very long story that I’ll have to save for another post – anyway, since I got the dang thing back, I have had an abiding faith in the idiocy of my fellow humans, and their complete and utter incapacity to operate a motor vehicle in a rational, responsible and efficient manner.

Here comes the science. I nominate these guys for a Nobel prize, an Ig Nobel prize, employee of the month at Denny’s, and whatever other awards are available for distribution : this brilliant and necessary work is truly an important and revealing look into the incompetence of your fellow man.

Birds, Louts, and Losing

A couple of days ago, I congratulated myself for sticking with this blog project fairly consistently. I then promptly disappeared for a couple of days. So it goes.

A few things:

As I type this post, I am seated out back of the family estate here in Juniorvania on a Muskoka chair that needs a coat of paint and some TLC. Nevertheless, the birds are chirping, the wind is rustling through the trees, even I can see that there are buds in places that used to feature only bare branches, and the daffodils have announced their yellow presence throughout my general vicinity. I am in my shirt sleeves and the sun is shining. I do not have to work today, and in a couple of hours I’m going to go in and watch a playoff hockey game. The wireless signal produced by the JBC geegaws is of sufficient strength to permit me to chronicle my indolence from this most favoured position.  Life is good.

I became aware of this as a result of a comment by PPP in a post over at Pension Plan Puppets. It’s truly sickening.

Hugo Contant’s only connection to countryman Jean Pierre Masse was that he happened to be close enough on Causeway Street after the game to see Masse try to walk past about two dozen drunken Bruins boors.

“He (Masse) was wearing glasses,” Contant recalled yesterday. “And he had a red Canadiens shirt on. When he approached them, they began yelling things like, ‘Go home, you French (expletive)’ – things like that. I heard (Masse) laugh and say, ‘We don’t want to fight . . . we don’t want any trouble,’ as he tried to pass. Then someone punched him once, maybe twice, in the face. He went down and his eyeglasses came off.

“That is when I see this other man in the Bruins shirt walk up and kick him in the head, while the man was still laying in the street,” Contant said. “And then he kicked him again in the face. That’s when I ran to him, because I thought they would kill him. When I got to him, I thought he was dead. That is when I screamed, ‘Look what you’ve done!’ ”

It is truly astonishing to me that some people apparently have so little going on in their own lives that they would even consider physically assaulting a complete stranger because of his support for a rival sports team. All joking aside, I have real difficulty conceiving of the complete and utter lack of basic civility and humanity that facilitate the commission of such an act.

Obviously, such behaviour is unacceptable. As I indicated in my reply to PPP’s comment, I think that morally, we are obliged to prevent such things from happening where possible, and that we must see to it that those who do offend in this way are punished severely. If we do not, we are to a certain extent complicit in this outrage. There will be a tendency among newspaper columnists and other social commentators, eager for the easy angle I suspect, to try to make this an issue about Boston sports fans, or perhaps American culture; any such attempts to neatly confine the issue are, in my opinion, misguided because they fail to admit of the possibility that it could have happened anywhere. Neither the City of Boston nor the United States of America has cornered the market on hooliganism and loutish behaviour.

Keeping that proviso in mind – that I do not suggest that either Bostonians or Americans are uniquely or especially morally defective – it seems to me that at the very least, the Boston Bruins ought to be all over this incident. They ought to be making an example of the waste of skin in the Jason Allison jersey ( ! ) who did this to Mr. Masse and any other person that they believe to be involved. For starters, they ought to be taking steps to ensure that nobody who participates in anything remotely like this is ever admitted to a Bruins game again. They ought to go public with an announcement to that effect, and they ought to make it clear that they will not tolerate, under any circumstances, any kind of association with those who behave in such a fashion. The other NHL clubs ought to be adopting similar policies and security measures, and the league as a whole ought to speak out immediately and emphatically on this issue, making it clear that violence and hooliganism will not be tolerated in any way. I recognize that the NHL is big business, and that taking such a stance may be more problematic in certain markets than others (I’m looking in your direction, Philadelphia). I further recognize that the last thing the league wants to do, on the best of days, is to re-ignite the eternal debate about the role of violence in hockey, a topic that will inevitably arise as those with sport-related agendas and small brains will point to fights on the ice as somehow “causing” an incident like this. Nevertheless, this is an opportunity for the league to take a principled and ethical stand on an issue of general societal importance; we ought to demand no less from good corporate citizens.

As for our own individual conduct, we should each of us remember this sickening incident and see to it – by policing ourselves – that no one around us is ever permitted to cross the line separating civilization from barbarism again. Long before the scumbag in the Allison jersey went off on Mr. Masse that night, he was asshole. There were people around him who knew he was an asshole. They failed to make it clear to him that he was behaving like an asshole and that he needed to not be doing that. Those who failed to discourage such behaviour are not guilty of assaulting Mr. Masse; they do not have his blood on their hands. They have, however, most assuredly failed us and failed our society in general.

Game Five, Washington/Philadelphia: I was left with two lingering thoughts following Knuble’s goal in double overtime to end Game 4. First, I wondered where this game would fit for Caps fans in Bill Simmons’ “Levels of Losing” taxonomy. At first, I was convinced that this had to be a “Level XII” or “Achilles Heel” loss because it seemed to me that Washington’s defencemen were revealed to be so obviously and woefully overmatched in this game (particularly the uniformly execrable Milan “Here, Let Me Tee That Up For You” Jurcina) that no other description could possibly apply. On further review, however (he says, holding the little black phone to his ear and jamming the other finger, the one with the whistle clipped on to it, in his other ear to staunch the crowd noise) I believe this to have been a “Level VIII” or “Dead Man Walking” loss: Jurcina in particular had played badly in the series prior to Game 4, and even the otherwise heroic Mike Green had committed some costly turnovers in all three previous games, so I think it would be a little false to characterize this loss as revealing a hitherto secret weakness on a contender. Rather, it seems to me that this loss was one from which mentally, it is likely that there is no coming back for the team. The Capitals got such outstanding goaltending from Cristobal Huet, and as a team they hung in there so tough in the face of an amazing amount of adversity – the five minutes shorthanded in period one, brutal officiating that allowed the Flyers to unleash their elbows at will, their own stupidity in taking not one, but two “too many men on the ice” calls, more brutal officiating that had Victor Kozlov in the box for a laughable goaltender interference penalty with less than three minutes to go in a tied game that they HAD to win – and they came so close to winning in spite of it all, but it was not to be. The point is that they had the chance to turn the tide in the series – a win in that game, in the face of all that adversity would have given their legs an incredible burst of energy stemming straight from enhanced confidence. Instead, they went down 3-1 and have to suspect, in their heart of hearts, that it is not meant to be. They are Dead Men Walking.

Second, as I have noted elsewhere, in my opinion the person who ought to be most ashamed of his performance in this post-season (with the possible exception of the aforementioned Mr. Jurcina) is Steven Walkom, the NHL’s Director of Officiating. Seriously, what the hell is going on this year? There have been goals scored when the attacking team was offside. There have been goals disallowed because the official was “intending” to blow the whistle. The types of calls being made within games and from game-to-game vary so broadly and erratically that the referees have become nothing but a laughable source of frustration for the fans and players of every team. In what world was it fair for the referee to banish Kozlov for goaltender interference (please read, “being propelled into the goaltender by an opposition player”) with 3 minutes remaining in the third period of a tie game, and yet no call at all was made when a Philadelphia player (it may even have been Knuble, now that I think of it) steamrollered right over Huet in overtime? Bugger the fiction that it’s fair to “let the players decide” by putting the whistles away: that philosophy of officiating gives an advantage to a team that takes physical liberties with its opposition. If you can make it into overtime with a bunch of muggers and goons, your opposition is doomed because they don’t stand a chance of surviving the extra frame. This type of “situational ethics” is exactly the kind of thing that engenders suspicion of the officiating in general. If it’s a penalty in the first period, it’s a penalty in the second overtime. Call it, and call it the same for both teams. How hard is that to understand as a mission statement for the zebras?

Twenty-five minutes to game time now. I need to go run a couple of quick errands, then settle down in front of the tube. Ovechkin and Semin need to dominate early in this game, and the Caps need to score early and often. If they can win this one, who knows what might happen – but I suspect they are Dead Men Walking.

It arose from under the cardboard boxes…

…and re-attached itself to the Grid!  It lives!  In, according to Spouse, disgusting Smell-o-Vision™! 

I see that during my period of un-connectedness, the spam fairies have paid a visit in the Comments section.  Note to self:  have senior technicians at the Juniorvanian Broadcasting Corporation (JBC) get on that little problem.  The People demand an effective spam filter!

The migration to Juniorvania is now complete.  That is, the actual migrating is complete; the People’s Department of Public Works has been otherwise very occupied with many local improvements, what with the the packing, the loading, the unloading and the unpacking (Monday and Tuesday), not to mention the second round of unloading and unpacking (Wednesday – we received a shipment of items that have been kept in storage for us until such time as our national borders could accomodate them).  Since then, the Glorious Leadership of Juniorvania has been attempting to improve the quality of life in the Homeland by removing entirely certain mountains (apparently constructed largely of cardboard and packing paper) that seem to have recently arisen in the area.  One such range, located in the middle of what is supposed to be our living room, is pictured below:
Batch Number Eight 073
I believe I have had a flash of brilliant insight in the course of the move.  Rather like Sir Isaac Newton and his discovery of the principles of gravity, this insight came to me while I was engaged in one of my many trips to the trash and recycling bins.  It is the first discovery of what I hope will be a very productive Juniorvanian Science and Technology Ministry.  I shall call this revelation “Junior’s Principle of Relative Geographic Significance”.  It is a theorem that explains why an otherwise rational person would go to the time and expense of transporting an object from one place to another, only to discard the said object completely.  Empirical observation:  in the course of a move, while packing things away at the initial location, a person can hardly bear the thought of parting with certain treasures collected carefully (or perhaps otherwise) over a lifetime. Yet upon arrival at the ultimate destination, imbued with a sense of fresh possibility –  resolving to implement new systems, new (and better!) organization, and to suffer less clutter – certain of these treasures reveal themselves to be of somewhat less than stellar quality. They are thrown out in the trash, recycled or donated to charity.  Conclusion:  When engaged in a move, certain items selected for transport will undergo a mysterious physical transformation while in transit: beloved artifacts in one locality will become simple refuse in another.   Clearly, more research is needed;  at this time, for example, we do not know what proportion of items transported from place to place will be transmogrified, nor do we understand the mechanics of the metamorphosis.   For now, we are left with but a window into one of the beautiful mysteries of this universe.

Keeping this principle in mind, I offer a real-life (though perhaps rather extreme) demonstration of the principle, involving an actual item unloaded from the moving van and imported into Juniorvania.  An object bearing the following label was unearthed in our living room this morning by the People’s archaelogists.
Here it is in situ, with the label from the movers clearly visible:
Batch Number Eight 001
I make no moral or normative judgements about the presence of this relic.  Whatever it was when it was placed upon the moving van, it is now simply “scrap wood.”  It has become what it is, and now it – along with many other things – is here in Juniorvania.  We have resolved to preserve this object for the purposes of further scientific inquiry.

I will post another update about the move either later today or early tomorrow (and the poetry contest, I think we have a winner!).  For now, there are Great Projects to be accomplished lest we risk fomenting unrest among the people, as it seems that the tasks of the Glorious Leadership are many.

Stylin’ and profilin’, new school.

A friend of ours gave birth this morning to a healthy baby boy. Naturally, part of this evening was decreed by Spouse to include a go-to-the-mall, go-directly-to-the-mall, do-not-pass-go, definitely-do-not-collect $200 trip. The purpose of the excursion was to collect miniature versions of real people’s clothes to give to the child as a gift. It didn’t take long before an oh-so-cute little track suit with oh-so-cute cute little frogs was located, which track suit needed (naturally) to be augmented by the little shirt (navy and white stripes, also adorned with little frogs), and little white socks (or possibly wheel covers for a 1:64 scale model Camaro), yet again with the little frogs. The piece de resistance? Tiny little running shoes – size one, $19.95. No frogs, but get this: still cute as all get out.

I began gently mocking Spouse concerning the remarkable volume of baby clothing being purchased. It seems to me that if we ever do have a child of our own, it is likely (as a result of Spouse’s retail-related weaknesses) to be the only little gaffer ever to have need of a “toddle-in” closet.

I thought it was funny.

Silence is deep as eternity, speech is shallow as time.

Um....FAIL.I checked tsn.ca for the final score of the Leaf game this morning when I got to work. I just needed to know how badly the Leafs had lost. When I tuned in to the game last night, it was late in the first period, 2-0 for the Kings. No sooner had I set the remote down and settled back in my favourite chair to watch, it was 3-0 and I began to mutter about Andrew “Razor” Raycroft’s inability to block a beach ball with a snow shovel* when Andy Wozniewski fired the puck over the glass in the Leafs’ zone: power play Kings, and in about 40 seconds it was four – zip Kings. I clicked the game off, breathed a few curses and went to bed.

Anyway, TSN’s site gave me the expected bad news. That was an abomination that I fully expected to find. In the comments section below the article, however, I happened to notice (purely by chance, I’m not in the habit of reading those comments, for reasons which will become painfully obvious) one particular entry. Some brainiac waste of skin going by the handle “I_HATE_THE_NHLPA” had posted, below the story about the 5-2 final score, the following alarming bit of shite:

Simply horrific. Trade Sundin for 2, maybe 3 1st rounders and some good talent for the rest of the season. What a joke…

This is the kind of stuff that makes a guy’s brain explode; it’s the reason I don’t EVER listen to talk radio, especially sports talk radio. Mere possession of a phone and the ability to dial a 1-800 number does not qualify one to debate an issue intelligently. It’s the reason that I am increasingly finding myself dealing with more than a little self-loathing as a direct result of identifying myself as a Maple Leaf fan; I feel guilty of all manner of offence merely by association with some of the most troglodytic fans on the face of the earth.

Scary Movie Indeed.

I was idly flipping through the channels tonight, awaiting the commencement of the Leafs vs. Kings game (late night start time for those of us here in Central Canada) when I noticed something unusual about the *ahem* adult programming listed by our cable service. Certain of the programs, being described as “movies” are assigned a quality rating (1 to 4 stars) – just like all the other movies.

This fact raises a number of questions in my mind.

Who quality rates the porn? Is the porn rated according to its own dedicated system, i.e. compared to all other porn flicks and according to certain porn-specific criteria? Or is the porn judged and rated according to the same star-assignment system as regular movies? This latter possibility may be somewhat disturbing to folks like the Wayans brothers; that is, if Driving Miss Daisy and Driving Miss Daisy are being judged by identical criteria, there are some inescapable and ugly truths that may have to be faced, in a very concrete and quantitative way, by failed directors. For example, the particular adult feature I saw being advertised – Mega Blondes – was afforded a two-star rating by the anonymous cable company cinematic assessors. Two stars! That’s one more star than was attributed to Scary Movie 2, a feature being offered on an adjacent channel. To review, assuming that these 2 films were rated on a common scale and according to identical criteria, the quality assessors who watched both Scary Movie 2 and Mega Blondes apparently came to the conclusion that the porn flick was twice as good as the work of the Wayanses.

I’m just sayin’.