If You Don’t Have Anything Nice to Say About Someone, That Someone is Probably Andrew Raycroft.

Okay, first things first.  I know, it’s been a while since I posted last.  Lots has happened – Casey Printers has come to Hamilton, there were earthquakes and fires in Greece, there’s an election campaign (and referendum) in Ontario, and there’s been a recent spate of civil unrest in Myanmar, which unrest has evidently been put down by the government in a brutally repressive fashion  (current events not necessarily listed in order of worldwide significance).

But I haven’t got time to write about any of that right now.  Spouse is waiting for me to take out the garbage – at least she will be when she gets off the telephone – so I have to move quickly to speak my peace.

What’s gnawing at my craw?  Andrew freakin’ Raycroft, that’s what. 

No, it isn’t. It’s just loud.

There is a very interesting article in The Economist about the effect of digital technology on the motion picture industry, at the distribution/exhibition end, rather than the more commonly discussed production end.  It is well worth a read, but I suspect you will agree that the author has obviously tried too hard in his opening paragraph to articulate a broadly meaningful thesis:

THERE is a scene in “Transformers”, a blockbuster that came out last week, in which a mobile phone turns into a homicidal robot. In its astonishingly loud way, the film is a meditation on the dangers posed by advanced technology.

Transformers?  The two hour and twenty-three minute montage of stuff getting blowed up by homicidal robots?  A “meditation” on anything?  Puh-lease.  This like suggesting that “King Ralph” is a “Swiftian satire about the democratization of the monarchy”. 

Many lessons can perhaps be learned here, chief among them being “Don’t rely on magazines about economics to provide you with insightful film criticism.”  I rather suspect that the thesis in question is a poorly-veiled and badly executed attempt to rationalize, for an inquisitive editor, why the author was apparently busy attending a screening of this summer’s big-budget blockbuster rather than churning out 1000 words on the Chinese widget industry.

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Categorized as Movies

What he said!

A couple of posts ago, I wrote about the Ticats’ lack of discipline and need, first and foremost, to avoid penalties.  Steve Milton agrees:

With all the other problems plaguing the rebuilding team, the Cats cannot afford the folly of leading the CFL in penalty yardage.

In just two games, their sins have cost them 278 real yards, and countless more in lost potential. Their opponents in those two games have combined for barely half (141 yards) that. The Cats have already been hit for 53 more yards than the next most penalized team (Calgary).

Now, I’ve been meaning to go on a little bit about how much I like this guy’s writing, but seriously, the guy’s apparently a freakin’ genius.

All kidding aside, I do like Milton’s writing.  He tends to avoid the angles everybody else is beating to death and he doesn’t reach for hyperbole to drum up excitement.  I think I’ll wait for a bit before heaping further praise on the man, though – for now, I’ll just sleep the deep sleep of the righteous.

About the Chaise Planes

This article is about a guy who emulated possibly the greatest aviation pioneer of them all, Lawnchair Larry.

Buried in the article is a little gem that suggests I have some research to do the next time spouse abandons me (and the wireless notebook) in front of a football game on the TV:

Couch, 47, is the latest American to emulate Larry Walters – who in 1982 rose three miles above Los Angeles in a lawn chair lifted by balloons.

“Latest” American?  I need to find out the identities of all other backyard furniture pilots, immediately.

Hammer Couture

In the concrete aisle behind Box H at Ivor Wynne last evening, spouse drew to my attention a young lass wearing a black t-shirt that insisted, in very large lettering, “I HAVE A Ph. D.*”   The asterisk naturally led one’s eye to the insignia emblazoned below in a somewhat smaller font, which indicated, “Pretty Huge Dick.”

Now, generally speaking, I’m not one for insisting that certain apparel be restricted in its wearing by either one gender or the other – except when the apparel in question is my favourite sweatshirt, spouse has her thirsty eyes all over it and is hatching a plot to carry it away to her secret underground treasure cave (which is, I believe, stocked to the roof with such sweatshirts).   In this case, however, I think it would be wise to make an exception and consider the “Ph.D.” shirt to be dude-specific.   Please don’t misunderstand me, I’m not suggesting the said garment would be appropriate or even funny when worn by a man.   It would be, however, somewhat less puzzling and simplicity – not gender bending in your face-yo brain farts – is what I’m all about when I’m settling in to my seat with a tall boy in hand and oskee wee wee in my heart. 

Free Agent Frenzy

So, that magical midsummer day is over.   Okay, maybe not “magical”, but it was Canada Day, so that made it feel kind of special. 

July 1st has come and gone and all the pretenders have tried to become contenders by throwing money at a (for the most part, in my opinion) badly over-hyped crop of free agents.  The New York Rangers, it has to be said, managed to land two quality fish in this year’s tournament.  Both Gomez and Drury are quality players who have shown themselves to be character guys in the early portion of their respective careers.  The Blueshirts will be a more potent threat up front than many of their Eastern Conference rivals.  I would suggest it is a mistake, however, to label the Rangers “instant contenders” as some have done.  There are glaring holes on defence that will be exposed come playoff time ’08 unless Slats gets some help fast.   Don’t get me wrong, the Rangers are better and have virtually assured themselves a spot in the big tournament if only through the attrition suffered by their rivals, notably New Jersey (hey, Devils fans – ouch!), the Sabres (hey Buffalo fans – that smarts!) and the Islanders (hey Islander fan – you two, Mr. and Mrs. DiPietro – you have our condolences);  but teams don’t dance the final dance on the card unless their are proven and capable defenders able to carry the load. 

In that regard, don’t you just hate the Red Wings?  They lose a guy like Mathieu Schneider, who admittedly played a key role in the Wings’ playoff run and whose absence after he was injured hurt them more than any Leaf fan with a memory could possibly imagine – and promptly fill the hole with Brian Rafalski.  Do you mind?   For those of you uncertain of my meaning, imagine you are in the parking lot at Wal-Mart, and your ’92 Dodge Neon gets clipped by a delivery truck.   The company is apologetic, they offer to fix your car, pay for the damage and get you a loaner while you wait for the return of your vehicle – and the loaner is a Ferrari Testarossa.   Um, and you don’t have to give the loaner back.  Actually, given the Red Wings’ embarrassment of riches over the last few years, the metaphor would be better like this:  Lance McCoolguy, the all-city quarterback for your high school football team, is driving  in the parking lot of some cool nightclub that you’ve never even heard of, when the club owner accidentally knocks over some post attached to the velvet ropes that keep people like you out of the club, and the post hits Lance’s cherry red Ferrarri Testarossa, which the owner offers to replace with – a brand new Ferrari Testarossa!  I hate you, Lance, and I hate the Red Wings too!  Do you see how I have used the power of metaphor to make you the subject of scorn and derision, driven mostly by insane puerile jealousy?

Finally, with respect to my beloved Leafs, I am somewhat encouraged.   The Leafs’ need for a scoring forward to roll with Sundin has been obvious.  I am glad the person designated to fill that role is NOT Daniel Briere, who I thought disappeared through critical portions of the Sabres’ recent playoff loss to the Rangers.   Any fan of any team would have liked to see Ryan Smyth don the local jersey, but I think the Avs overpaid for him (as the Rangers probably did for Drury, too).   The player the Leafs did get, Jason Blake, seems like a good fit and it appears as though the Leafs got him for a reasonable price.  This coming on the heels of the acquisition of Vesa Toskala – an upgrade in the goaltending department – is almost enough to wash the bitter taste out of my mouth from draft day – you know, the one that began around the time that the Hawks picked first over all and kept growing and growing until sometime THE NEXT DAY when John Ferguson, Jr. finally picked our first player, the future former professional hockey player Dale Mitchell like 74th overall.   

But please, JFJ, remeber that sitting on your arse all day at the draft only makes sense if you are going to win NOW.  Because if you don’t win NOW, and you have sat on your arse at the draft, we won’t be winning later either. 

Open Letter to Ticat Fans

MEMO

To:          Hamilton Tiger Cat Football Fans

From:      Jason Maas

Subject:   June 30th game vs. Calgary Stampeders

_________________________________________________________________ 

Um.  I don’t know why I did it. 

I mean, I know it was second and ten and I was standing in my own end zone, which meant that the guy who was a few yards directly to my right, well he ALSO had to be in our own end zone.  Simple geometry.   And he wasn’t even really “open”, either – not in any real sense.  “Open” maybe in the sense that nobody really thought that anyone with two neurons to rub together would throw that far across the field to a guy in his own end zone – when there were two defenders standing a few yards in front of him – maybe that kind of “open”, but not “open” in the sense that he’s going to catch it and make a first down. 

My point is, I knew all that stuff.  Heck, I’ve played in the CFL for like 8 years.  I passed for more than 5000 yards during one of those years.  Five thousand!  That’s like 4 and a half kilometres.  It’s not like I haven’t proven in the past that I know what I’m doing.

But here’s the thing:  I still threw that pass.  Standing there in the middle of my own end zone, facing a second and ten from the shadow of my own goal post at a critical juncture in the game and (it must be said) at a critical juncture in my personal football career (let’s face it, new o-line and untested receivers or not, the pressure is on me to SHOW the fans that I can still play this game after a miserable 2006)  and I still, incomprehensibly, chose to throw that pass.  From all of the infinite options in the universe of possibilities – I somehow eliminated all other alternatives and chose to throw that astonishingly unintelligent pass.

The box score will say that Brock Ralph lost a fumble in our end zone and that the Stamps recovered for a touchdown.  But you know that’s not true.  You’re a football fan – you know that this thing, this mistake, this abortion of a play – it was my fault.  Sure, Brock made a dumbass move later in the game, when it was well out of reach – you know, after I spent almost the entire second quarter and most of the beginning of the third throwing passes 0 to 5 yards up the field, or fumbling the snap from centre, then got pulled for Timmy Chang – Brock went offside and cost us a meaningless, but somehow hopeful, touchdown with a dumb penalty. But we’re not talking about later in the game after the Calgary defense had gone home, safe and secure in the knowledge that they had a 20 point lead, we’re talking about the moment in the second quarter when everybody in the stadium simultaneously said “what the hell was he thinking” and I threw that pass.  And I know that you’re too much of a fan to actually sit there thinking, for the entire week, that “Dammit, Brock Ralph cost us a touchdown by fumbling the ball in our end zone.” 

You know that it was my fault.  You know that somewhere deep inside my alleged grey matter, something went seriously wrong there, like when you plug your tape deck in to the “phono” input of the stereo and the music is suddenly all garbly and distorted or one of the channels like completely fries and there’s a small puff of very acrid, vaguely toxic smelling smoke, and suddenly the left channel of your amp doesn’t work at all anymore.  Yeah, you know it was like that, neurologically speaking, for me – you know that when I was standing there with the ball and the decision making process ought to have been underway in my head, instead my synapses had doused themselves in mai-tais, formed a conga line and cha-cha’ed out the metaphorical doorway, drunkenly swinging their hips and burping up funny coloured bits of rum-flavoured slushy mix.   And I can’t even deny it.  That is basically what happened inside my head when I did that thing. 

Um.  So, I’m uh, sorry.  About that.  And, um.  The fumble on the snap from centre.  And, um, well most of the other stuff I did (and didn’t do) in Calgary last night.  Because you know, even the one long pass that Nate Curry caught wasn’t really a good throw.  It kind of hung up there like a duck, quacking away.  I was sort of surprised that it didn’t get shot down by four guys wearing orange hats and carrying shotguns.  It was a good thing the Calgary defender was off buying popcorn when I threw it, never believing that I was actually going to chunk the ball downfield, or he might have made a better play on that ball.   You know, come to think of it, even ol’ Nate had a kind of look on his face, a kind of  “Jeez, maybe I shouldn’t have had shotgunned those six beers at halftime but really I had no frickin’ idea you’d be actually throwing it – well not exactly “to” me, but like in my general direction”  kind of thing.  So, um.   Anyway.  Um.

I’m sorry, and I thought it would be best if we could just get this out in the open, you and I.  So there it is.  If we run in to one another on the street, you don’t have to kind of stare at your shoes, shuffle your feet and mutter something about the “new playbook” or “breakdowns in the offensive line coverage” or anything.   And for my part, I don’t have to wear that kind of “crying puppy” expression on my face, looking for sympathy to displace reason – because I want us to be good, you and I.  You know that I fucked up, and I know that you know it, so we can just be adult about it and nobody needs to clear their throat and idly muse about some dipshit thing like “bad breaks” or whatever.  Because they weren’t “bad breaks.”  I fucked up.

So now that we have that straight, everything is cool, nobody needs to worry about anything, and you and I are good.   You’ll support me as the quarterback of this team, and I – in explicitly recognizing and taking responsibility for my own farcical shortcomings – have demonstrated to you that I know what’s wrong and I am going to fix it.

Right?

Sincerely,

Jason Maas

Future Former Ticats Quarterback

p.s. oskee wee wee and all that jazz

Norwood is Lining one Up…

Game 5 of the Sabres/Rangers series was last night.  That game, to me, was an out-and-out thriller that almost got ruined by the number of penalties called.  The Sabres seemed a little like sprinters trying to run with bowling shoes on;  they just didn’t seem to be able to get going properly in the right direction until very late in the game indeed.  I suppose it’s not surprising that they had a little trouble getting the bow up on plane because they spent so much time killing penalties.  Their own forays on to the power play didn’t seem to help much either – the Buffalo power play may be one of the most inept I’ve ever seen at recovering loose pucks in the opposition zone.   This last feature of the Sabre man-advantage unit has allowed the Rangers (as Pierre McGuire has ably pointed out on many occasions during the TSN telecasts of the series) to overplay the Sabres defence and virtually eliminate at times the “D to D” pass option.  Obviously, it becomes that much harder for the Sabres to move the puck East-West if that passing option is curtailed, which means that Lundstrom is not required to move laterally very much.   Combine this lack of functionality with an apparent reluctance on the part of the Buffalo forwards to get in front of the Swede and set up a persistent screen, and the result is a power play that coughs up the puck at the offensive blue line and spends a lot of time retrieving icings. 

So I Guess That Would Be a “No”, Then?

I ended up at this page via one of my daily web stops,  The Morning News.   The page contains a list of the “10 Greatest Albums of 1981” according to TMN founder Andrew Womack.   Since I have oddly enough had a recurring premonition that someone is going to demand to know my opinion on this very critical issue, I of course want to have something intelligent to say.    Consider that link clicked.   The second item on the list (at number 9, in true “countdown to suspense” fashion) refers to the album “Wilder” by the group The Teardrop Explodes.   Here is the part that made me spit my tea all over the place:

When recording the follow-up to this, their second album, “artistic differences” within the band finally caused the Teardrop Explodes to, um, implode. Singer Julian Cope would soon embark on a formidable career as a solo artist, and later as a music critic. Though the chances of a reunion are slim: When asked if the Teardrop Explodes might ever reform, he responded: “Would you ever return to having your mother wipe your asshole?”

Dude.  A simple “nuh uh” would have been totally enough.

VT: Another view.

Christopher Hitchens has written an excellent article about the national outpouring of grief in the wake of the Virginia Tech shootings. 
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