I Have Been a Bad Blogger

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Six Words of Truth

By now, I should probably have a whole category dedicated to “posts in which I apologize for being a lazy dilettante who wanders off from time to time, transfixed by something shiny”.

I don’t want to say I haven’t posted in a while, but there have been two – two! – Slug is Doug podcast episodes released since my last post.

I can explain away a week or two in August – kind of – because my MacBook was in the shop getting a flaw on the display screen fixed.  The other computers in our house were in places that were far too hot (no A/C in the house yet, long story, maybe I’ll tell you that one some other time) to even contemplate spending time in.

More than that, though, the summer has been a busy one.  Work, yes, and some work-related travel for both Spouse and I, but also some play;  a trip to Sudbury, a fishing trip, some writing projects (more on that in a moment), some music projects, a lot of yard-related chores (and yet the place is still a mess), a number of visits from family and friends (including the Second Sort Of Annual Founders’ Day Celebration)-  and lots of getting ready for an addition to our family.  That last bit, I think, explains a lot about why I’ve found it difficult to write extensively here for some time.

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Portrait of the Blogger as a Chastened Man, Now With 34% More Reformative Zeal

I have talked about it on Twitter a little, but here’s the skinny:  Spouse and I are expecting to be joined by Even More Junior Than Junior (EMJTJ), our first child, in about two and a half months’ time.  In this space, I’ve tried to strike a certain balance concerning personal matters;  I tend to include them in my writing because – for better or for worse – I think that I just write better when I bring the personal context into things.  I know, though, that Spouse is a more private person than I am, and I have tried to respect her clearly articulated (and reasonable) wishes not to have the minutiae of her life publicly documented across the Interwebs for time immemorial.  Similar concerns would apply for EMJTJ;  I have no doubt I’ll be documenting my soon to be sleep-deprived travels through the poop- and vomit-rich land of fatherhood, but I don’t want to make a public spectacle out of my son.   That will be something he can do on his own, no doubt in a licensed establishment, on some evening in the distant future.

Obviously, a lot of our energies have been focussed on the pregnancy over the last few months.  As we slowly get our home and our lives ready for the changes that are about to come, I think I have also been struggling with what, if anything, I ought to write here about the pregnancy.   As you can tell from the dearth of material hereabouts recently, I have obviously decided – I think mostly unconsciously – to edit that part of our lives out of the story that unfolds here.  There are reasons for my reluctance that go beyond the obvious privacy concerns. Neither Spouse nor I are what you would consider to be “youthful” first parents, so we’ve been a bit hesitant to allow ourselves to just enjoy the process, I suppose out of a sort of superstitious concern that we might be tempting fate to deal our child a host of medical problems to punish us for our hubris.  Writing it out makes explicit how silly that is, but I would be lying if I didn’t own up to using something like that thought process over the last few months.

Anyway, in general terms, all is well.  Spouse – and EMJTJ, so far as we know – are both healthy.  We have taken to referring to the little fellow as “Furious G”, thinking that it would do him well to get an early start on some street cred.  Since he is currently unable to knock over a liquor store, bust either a rhyme or a move and has no posse, we figured a hip hop name would be a good place to start.

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The 2010-2011 Maple Street Press Maple Leafs Annual

Aside from producing a human life, or at least a nascent one, during my digital estrangement from you, I have been doing some writing.  Much of this writing has happened at work and for work purposes.  It is boring and technical and awful and confidential, so I’ll tell you nothing about it.  The only reason I mention it is because that too partly explains why I haven’t been using my leisure time to write more and post it here.  In addition to the work writing, though, I also spent some time writing an article for the Maple Street Press 2010-2011 Maple Leafs Annual, which is available now in Chapters Indigo stores across Canada, as well as on many other newsstands in the Greater Toronto Area.   You can also order a copy online from Maple Street Press (just click the last link).

My article is an update on the rebuild of the Toronto Maple Leafs, exploring further the ideas I developed in last year’s edition of the Annual.  It’s called “Full Speed Ahead” and I am once again genuinely interested in hearing what people have to say about it.   Please drop me a note in the Comments below if you’ve read it (or last year’s article, for that matter).

When I finished the article about a month and a half ago, I got in touch with Alec Brownscombe (the editor of the publication) and asked him to send me certain information so that I could help him promote the thing.  As busy as he was, he did send along the info I asked for – and it sat in my inbox waiting to be developed into a blog post.  While I was distracted, the magazine was made available for pre-order online in August, and I promised myself that I’d have something up the day before it was scheduled to appear on shelves in stores.  That day came and went too, lost amid the excitement of the arrival of my newest niece Clara.  Now here we are, half way through September and I am re-calibrating my target for “before the opening of NHL training camps.”

I hope to have a little something for you tomorrow on what’s in the Annual.  Until then – I missed you.  I’ll try to keep in touch.

For Maple Leafs Annual Buyers: A Welcome

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Maple Street Press' Maple Leafs Annual 2009-2010

I am told that the Maple Leafs Annual is now available in many Chapters Indigo stores.  My Dad picked up his copy in a store in Burlington today.  Other reports via Twitter suggest that copies have been found in places like Wal-Mart elsewhere in the province.

If you’re someone who has already bought a copy of the magazine and you’re a new visitor dropping by this site because you followed the link at the end of my article, thanks for your interest.  PLEASE do me the favour of taking the time to drop me a message in the comments, even if just to let me know you were here.  I’d prefer it, of course, if you wrote a few hundred words about how my article is the best thing since somebody froze up a piece of poo and started whacking it around the frozen pond with a crooked branch, but feel free to berate me instead for whatever flaws you have identified in my article.  I really would like to have a discussion with the readers and get your impressions of what I wrote (even if you don’t do impressions :-), thank you very much, don’t forget to tip your waitress, be sure to try the veal and I’m here all week).  Like many of the contributors to the magazine, I haven’t done this sort of thing before and I am (some would say pathetically so) desperate for feedback on the results.

If you’re interested, you can read other things I’ve written on this site about the Leafs by clicking on this link (well, at least the ones I remembered to tag properly).  I also write about some other things, mostly my life in small-town southern Ontario on a piece of property I call “Juniorvania”.  One of my favourite posts, for example, has to do with the time my riding lawnmower tried to kill me.

Maple Leafs Annual 2009-2010: IT’S HERE!!!


My complimentary copy of the 2009-2010 Maple Leafs Annual – the Leafs season preview magazine containing my article on the arc of the Leafs’ rebuild and published by the “lunatic millionaires” who are “allergic to money” has arrived! Can you believe it, my piece was published on page 85, well known in the trade as the single most important page in any book, magazine or Jehovah’s Witness literature.

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Well, that's a weird smile...but look at the mag!!

I would love to write all kinds of witty stuff now about that, but I need to spend some quality time with the articles. More on the content later.  Incidentally, you can learn more about how to get your own life-affirming, magical and money-generating copy by clicking on the little picture of the magazine cover in the upper left corner of the site.

My initial reaction, having just opened up the box and frantically turned pages to confirm that my bit actually got published (in order to ensure that this is not part of an elaborate joke being played upon me by family and “friends”), is that the magazine looks terrific.  Alec Brownscombe should be very pleased;  I know I am.

Maple Leafs Annual 2009-2010

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Remember the big secret, the writing project that I was feverishly beavering away at (and – miracle of miracles – actually finishing) a few weeks ago?

Well, it’s not so much a secret anymore.

The good folks at Maple Street Press (previously described in this space as “lunatic immigrant millionaires with a tenuous-to-non-existent grasp on the English language” who believe they are “allergic to money”) have published the “Maple Leafs Annual 2009-2010”, the newest addition to the Maple Street Press family of sports publications.

I am told that the book may be found in Barnes & Noble bookstores across North America beginning August 18th (oops, relied on some bad info originally) that the book is affordably priced at $12.99 and that it hits newsstands September 8th.  It will be available at all Indigo Chapters stores in Canada as well as wherever magazines are sold in the greater Toronto area, including Walmart, grocery stores, drug stores, newsstands, etc.    Should you so desire though, gentle reader, you may guarantee yourself a copy by pre-ordering here (this latter option, which involves an additional $5 for shipping and handling, gets the thing directly to your home, trailer or cardboard box, conveniently eliminating any need whatsoever for you to leave your couch, lawn chair or patch of litter-strewn asphalt beneath the highway overpass*)

I hear you now:  “Hang on just a second, there, hoss” you are saying.  Just what the hell am I pre-ordering anyway by clicking on that magic link up yonder (did you know that you talk like a cowboy with Internet access?  Well, you do.)  Let me fill you in just a little bit on the details in that regard.  Alec Brownscombe, editor of the magazine and the maître d’ at  Maple Leafs Hot Stove has posted the whole nine yards about this publication announcement here.  I don’t want you to run away across the vast expense of teh Intarwebs just yet though – who knows, all that disorganized clicking and surfing might just break the damn thing, and what a fine mess we’d be in then – so here’s a wee smidgen of what Alec is promising:

Maple Street Press is an independent publishing company that works to produce high quality, authoritative, analytical, and insightful sports publications for the serious fan. More than your generic team guide, the Annual is the first of its kind to offer a variety of comprehensive viewpoints on the topics concerning the Leafs loyalist. We’ve assembled a cast of many of the web’s most knowledgeable Leafs and hockey writers, each of whom offers a unique and insightful perspective with a finger firmly on the pulse of Leafs Nation all the while. Collectively, we offer 128 ad-free pages of relevant Leafs content; analysis, interviews, scouting expertise, in-depth statistics, key information, humour, colour photos and nostalgia included.

I am really quite honoured to have been asked to contribute a little sumpin’ sumpin’ for this exciting project, if only for the chance to get published alongside pieces by some real superstars in the hockey writing world (James Mirtle !) and others by some top-notch bloggers from around the Barilkosphere (including local favourites PPP, Chemmy, Down Goes Brown, eyebleaf, Cox Bloc, Bitter Leaf Fan and  Alec Brownscombe himself). These are the real goal scorers on our little writing team (see what I did there?  It’s called a “metaphor”, or at least I think it is.  We writers are a tricky lot);  I consider myself to be more the plucky and dogged (fourth oops, mistake pointed out by Godd Till Sept. 15/09) third line winger, the Bill Berg of  Leafs blogging.    My article focusses on the arc to be travelled by rebuilding franchises generally and compares the plan adopted by Brian Burke and the Leafs to the model apparently being used by Bruins’ GM Peter Chiarelli.   I know that a lot of the pieces that Alec commissioned for the magazine are what I think professional writers would term “long form”;  mine was over 3000 words.   I suspect that the Maple Street Press publications are unique in that they are focussed exclusively on a single organization, permitting much more in-depth analysis than the superficial league-wide season previews you’ll avoid reading elsewhere, and I can tell you from my experience writing this piece that the long form permits the writer to really try to develop an actual idea instead of just bombarding you with facts and stats.  I am excited to see my own article in print, but I’m absolutely jacked to see what my fellow contributors have come up with for this very reason.

I am also very much looking forward to actually meeting my fellow contributors and literally rubbing shoulders with them at the production wrap cocktail party, which I suppose will likely be some sort of exclusive catered affair, black tie of course, with insanely witty Leaf-related chat over canapes.  I hope that it’s “monocle optional”, as mine is in the, er, monocle shop getting repaired.  And there’s a bit of a backlog on account of the monocle repairman being so busy.  Of course, nobody’s mentioned that there are any actual plans to put on such a shindig, but I have to assume this sort of thing is customary.

As an aside, I would never have guessed that Brad May would be on the cover of a Maple Leafs-related publication but I would suppose that I am no more astonished by that development than Mr. May and his family.  Also, to answer the inquiries of my wife: no, I do not know why Luke Schenn doesn’t have a hockey stick in his hands in that photograph.  It is safe to assume, however, that the picture was taken just moments before the untimely passing of a brave, if not particularly intelligent, opponent.

In closing, I am not just asking but rather begging you to purchase a copy of this wonderful magazine.   Please don’t make me ramp this up a further notch to “threatening.”   It would be nice if Maple Street Press actually found this exercise to be a productive and financially rewarding one so that they might consider someday publishing another such magazine and including another such contribution from yours truly, in which case I could ask you to buy yet another magazine and I might be able to then afford to pay the ransom demanded by those kidnappers and get my uncle Russell out of the Sudan safely**.  The publisher can’t say stuff like this (you know, on account of consumer protection advertising laws and so on) but, in addition to containing all kinds of wonderful content devoted exclusively to consideration of your Toronto Maple Leafs (individual player profiles! history, analysis and humour! colour photographs!), and apart from the fact that it’s provided to you in a handsome, durable format that is advertisement-free (you’ll need to order your sea monkeys and x-ray specs from another publication), I am told by a reliable source’s best-friends uncle’s cousin twice removed that the magazine also has the salutary effect of causing its purchaser to become instantly more attractive to persons of the opposite sex.  Moreover, it cures baldness, premature ejaculation, bad breath, rickets, all golf-swing mechanics problems including both “hooks” and “slices”, leprosy and spontaneous human combustion – at least, there’s no reliable proof yet that it doesn’t do these things.

So, in summary, you should buy it or you might instantly burst into flames.


*assuming you have a ready and reliable supply of snacks already sorted out

**no warranty is made that any actual kidnapping occurred or ransom was demanded.  And even if it was, no promises are made that any funds obtained will be applied to the aforesaid ransom demands.  Sorry, Uncle Russell***.

*** Uncle Russell may not actually exist.