Friday, June 30, 2006

another season crashes to an end

As promised, here are the Top 11 things that make Canadian Football sucky. I had to do a lot of research on this, and there were some things that didn't make the list, but it actually was kind of difficult to come up with 11 things. It was even harder to put them in the proper order.

I'm open to suggestions on improving the list, but here's my take.

  • 11. "Designated Imports". In the Canadian Football League, each team's roster must consist of 20 Canadians, 19 "imports" and 3 Quarterbacks. Why the quarterbacks have their own designation, I don't know. There are further requirements about the number of "imports" that have to be on the field at a given time. In substitution situations, whenever an "import" comes off the field, one must go on. I don't know.
  • 10. The "C" and the 54 yard line". The Canadian Football field is longer and wider than the American counterpart. 110 yards long, to be exact. That's fine, except that Canada is one of those funky places that uses the metric system. It would seem more metrically perfect for their field to be 100 yards long, like ours, instead of 110. The center of the field is marked with a "C", for centre. Of course it seems weird to us for there to be such a thing as a 54 yard line, but my objection is that 55 being the center doesn't make sense from a metric standpoint.
  • 9. Twelve men. Canadian Football allows 12 men on the field per team, whereas we allow 11. Their positions are a little different, accordingly. I don't like it. I think 11 men is a bit much, for the record.
  • 8. Punting on third down. In Canadian Football, you are allowed three downs to progress 10 yards, compared to four downs here. Sure, there's a familiararity thing about why punting on third down is strange. However, that system has a much smaller margin for error. An unsuccessful play on first down, and your back's already against the wall.
  • 7. Crowd noise. Canadian Football takes the home field advantage right out of the home field advantage. If a team cannot get a play off because of crowd noise, they can request a non-charged time out. They can do this up to three times per game, and the referee has the option to penalize the home team for excessive crowd noise. Bullshit.
  • 6. The "Rouge". A team is awarded one point if they punt, kickoff, or miss a field goal, the ball ends up in the end zone, and the defending team can't advance out of the endzone. There's no "taking a knee" -- you have to try to bring it out. A missed field goal is a live ball, and must be returned. There are some really complicated issues surrounding the allowance of an "open field free kick" in this situation, but I'd rather not get into that. As a history lesson, the reason it's called a "rouge" is that in the early days, instead of adding one point to the kicking team's score, one point was deducted from the defending team's score. Sometimes, a previously scoreless team would take a one-point deduction, putting them "in the red" at -1.
  • 5. League size. Currently there are 8 active teams in the Canadian Football League (plus one suspended team -- Ottawa Renegades). By all accounts, there hasn't really ever been more than nine teams. In the 1980's there was a brief experiment with expansion into the US, with the ultimate goal of 10 Canadian and 10 US teams, but that failed. I don't know. It just seems absurd to have a major professional sports league with just 8 teams. Winning the Grey Cup is quite a bit like winning the prize for "cutest left-handed 9-year old kid in the cul-de-sac". Not much competition.
  • 4. Montréal Alouettes. One of the most storied franchises in the CFL is also one of the most laughed at. They were founded in 1946, and did just fine until things started to get shaken up in the eighties. After struggling financially, the team folded and was immediately replaced by the Montréal Concordes. They played for three seasons, but struggled with brand recognition. In 1986, they were re-named the "New Alouettes". That only lasted one season, and on the day the 1987 season started, the team folded. Seven years later, the CFL expanded into the United States. One of those teams, the Baltimore Stallions, eventually relocated to Montréal. In 1996, the Alouettes were re-born. This is the third different team to call themselves the Montréal Alouettes. And we thought that Oakland/LA/Oakland Raiders thing was bad.
  • 3. Baltimore Stallions. As stated in #4, the CFL had a pipe dream of a League with 10 Canadian teams and 10 US teams. They ran into some trouble with the US franchises, because our existing stadiums cannot be configured to accommodate the length of the Canadian field. Not only is the playing field longer by 10 yards, but the end zones are also longer by 10 yards apiece, meaning there's an extra 30 yards needed. Some teams had to be creative with the end zones to make it happen. Baltimore was far and away the most successful of the "CFL USA" teams. They were in the Grey Cup two seasons in a row, losing in 1994 and winning in 1995. The "American Experiment" ended a few years later, and Baltimore will always live in infamy as the American team to win the Canadian game.
  • 2. Rough Riders / Roughriders. One word, or two. This is the same damn name. For a long time, the 8-team CFL had TWO teams named the Rough Riders. So amazingly unimaginative. A long time ago, my friend Neil suggested that the only reason there isn't a professional kickball league is that every team would want to be called the "Kickers". Tonight, it's the Phoenix Kickers against the Jacksonville Kickers. Plenty of good seats available! Anyway, the (and I have to keep emphasizing this) 8-team league had only six teams that were NOT named "rough riders". There was (and still is) the Saskatchewan Roughriders (one word), and the now defunct Ottawa Rough Riders (two words). On four occasions, the two teams met for the Grey Cup. Ottawa has won three of those matchups.
  • 1. Drafting dead guys. Either the CFL has a really liberal policy on allowing players to be draft eligible, or the General Managers of certain Canadian clubs are morons. Two times in the history of the Canadian Football League, a deceased person was actually drafted. Not surprisingly, both gaffes were by teams I've already called out. In 1995, the Ottawa Rough Riders drafted defensive end Derrell Robertson, only to find out that he had died in a car crash five months previous. The next draft, the Montréal Alouettes were surprised to see defensive end James Eggink still available in the fifth round. They selected him, but found out a few hours later that he had lost his battle with cancer four months previous.

There are lots of other reasons, and I concede that some of these are nit-picky, but that's all I have for today.

now playing:

American Football American Football

Monday, June 26, 2006

playing tracks six and seven again and again

Holy crud! Two posts in one day! What's the world coming to?

Since my "inbox" and "outbox" are full, and since I've been threatening to do this for some time now, and since it gives me something to write about, I'd like to share some of my favorite ingoing/outgoing text messages from my phone. Many of them are from/to the same person. If you're reading (and I know you are), you know who you are.

Because it's been my life and blood for the past three nine months, many of these are related to hockey.

  • Scrabble is 4 losers
  • New rule: Never ever NEVER EVER EVER put your pom pom in your ballcap so you look like a cartoon Billy Ray Cyrus
  • My mom says chocolate chip cookies represent the mongrel race
  • Congrats! See you soon, bitches!
  • Oh. plenty o' beer
  • That KFC "meal" looks like a poultry abortion
  • Damn homey. Yr gonna look like John Walker Lindh. Go Canes!
  • Don't be shy on the TX Pete
  • Bad Russian goalie, this one
  • Can read yr sign all the way over here
  • god... You guys have to be so damn good...
  • PS I like the new Dandy Warhols. Fuck PFM. Thx for the CD. See you Saturday.
  • **GREAT** assist by Staalsy!
  • JoVa looks stoned on the bench
  • You exhaled??? Wait ... Me too
  • I'd be too. "Outcapitalized" is the new word for "lost"
  • I am not cake or a lesbian. Enjoy the game.
  • Dang. Ain't no sandwiches during soccer.
  • McCreary and Watson tonite. McGeough won't even be in the building.
  • Have you taken your pants off yet?
  • I BELIEVE!!!
  • and what about that beard?


  • Makin' out yet?
  • Hedican is a BEAST!! Great PK
  • Lavi looks like a genius with that change in goal
  • I dunno. Still at work. FedEx usually arrives at 4. Are they sweet?
  • McGeough sux
  • Finnish?
  • Good team against a bad goalie
  • I heart you??
  • Oilers are too cute with their passes
  • WOW!! Great killing
  • If they showed a running total, it would rock
  • You see the pressers? MacT was a little bit snippy
  • By the way, has WAY better lineup cards
  • Chili good to go.

Now that I have a permanent record of these, I can delete all the messages. Sweet.

Coming very soon: a "top 11" list of reasons that Canadian football sucks.

now playing:

Camera Obscura Let's Get Out of This Country

i thought it was you that i had chased

Yeah. So one week later, I have the joy of telling you that I was indeed the happiest person you know on Monday of last week.

My Carolina Hurricanes defeated the Edmonton Oilers 3-1 in game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals, earning the first championship for the Whalers/Canes franchise, and pissing off "original 8" hardliners everywhere.

As soon as the game was over, and as soon as I watched the presentation of the (holy FUCK) Cup, and as soon as I made it throught the line for hat/t-shirt, I went to the parking lot, had champagne with my friends Bill and Beth, and I shaved my awful beard.

The beard was good to me, and it was apparently good to the team.

A quick primer for the non-hockey fans. Sometime in the 1980's, when the New York Islanders were good, they were the ones to start the tradition of the playoff beard. Everyone on the team grew a beard, and refused to shave until the whole thing was over. They won three Cups in a row, so it must have worked. The rest of the league took notice, and it slowly took off from there. Individual players started doing it, and by now, almost every player on every team decides to stop shaving during the playoffs.

There are a few rules. The shaving stops either on the last day of the regular season, or on the first day of the playoffs. That really isn't important. The important thing is that there is no shaving. Period. No trimming, no grooming. Nothing. They just let what happens happen. Some will say that it's okay to shave after losing any game, so as to build new mojo, but most people frown upon that.

The best example of a really kickass playoff beard is that of Lanny McDonald who was a phenomenal player with a 17-year NHL career. He ended his career with the Calgary Flames, winning the Cup there in 1989. His playoff beard (and his full-time moustache) is legendary.

Sometime in the mid-late '90s, fans started playing along with the playoff beard. Since I don't have a wife (or even a girlfriend), and I don't have a job that requires a clean shave, I thought I would grow one. I stopped shaving on April 17, the day before the final regular season game. As a season ticket holder, I had the rights to playoff tickets in my same seat, and I exercised that right. In game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Buffalo Sabres, my beard earned me some world-wide attention. I carried a sign into the game that said "My Beard Believes". I was caught on OLN (in the US), CBC (in Canada), and one or both of these feeds was available all over the world. When I got home from that game, I had about a half dozen e-mails from places like Tucson, AZ; Toronto, ON; Vancouver, BC; and Stockholm, Sweden saying they'd seen me on TV. I've never met these people in real life, but they recognized me in a three second tv shot. That was pretty sweet.

Anyway, I had my moment of fame, and my Canes won. I had been getting negative reviews of the 63-day beard from women, and I knew full well that it looked terrible. However, I was devoted to my team, and it paid off.

After all that stuff with the game, I went to shave the beard. I had hoped that I would take it off slowly and document it in hilarious fashion like some of my hockey blogging acquaintances, but I was in a hurry to get it off.

I took some pictures, but couldn't quite make it as funny as some of those guys. Even if you don't like hockey, or beards, I encourage you to visit the links below. I'll share my beard-shaving post in its entirety, and strongly encourage you to click to the links:

If I get to do this thing 900 times in my life, I'll never be able to do it as brilliantly as did Sacamano, over at BofA. His beard-removal post and the accompanying photos will soon be the stuff of legends. Both for its elaborateness and its high level of comedy. If you didn't read his post when he de-bearded in early June, do so now. EDIT---Also, check out the great beard removal by Chris!, over at Covered in Oil, who removed his whiskers on Tuesday afternoon.

I didn't take nearly as many photos of the process, nor did I do it in any elaborate fashion whatsoever. I was in a hurry to get than damn thing off my face so women would stop telling me that they hate my beard. Now they can revert to telling me that they hate me. If, for some bizarre reason, you need to see enlargements of these photos, just click on them.

With the help of a $20 set of clippers (which worked magnificently, by the way), I was able to reduce the beard to mere stubble. Good enough for the drive home. With the help of my friends Bill and Beth, I got photographic evidence. In the first picture, I'm going after the stuff on the neck, and I've already gotten most of one side of my face. I didn't really have a plan (or a mirror) at that point. I thought about trying to match Sacamano's beard removal, going for different styles and designs along the way, but really I just wanted it off.

As you can see from the second picture, I decided to go for the ole' half-n-half. I think this will be a facial hair sensation that will take over the world. You saw it here first. Without a mirror, I had no idea how I was doing with the evenness of it, but I'm pretty pleased with how that stage of it came along.

Then, I came up with a style that's absolutely retarded. I wish, in retrospect, I had some shots of all this in profile, or some video clips of this, but I didn't plan it out very well, and like I say, I was on a freakin' mission. In the third photo, you can see that I've removed all of it except for the half-stache. Again, I have a hunch that this will be a fashion trend. Sure, laugh all you want. I have more stupid ideas where that one came from.

Finally, the end result. A (mostly) clean shaven face that I haven't seen or felt in 63 days. I'm very excited to no longer look like some terrorist or freak cult leader. Or Jake Plummer. The woman beside me in the picture is Bill's wife Beth. .

I'd like to thank my beard (RIP) for all the fun times we had together. I will always remember it.

Monday, June 19, 2006

...and i'm keeping it full of ice on your advice

Tonight, dear friends, my whole world will be defined.

As you may know, I am quite passionate about hockey and my Carolina Hurricanes. Tonight is game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals.

Somewhere around 11:00 tonight, I will either become the happiest person you know, or the most soul-crushingly depressed person you know.

Please think of me and my boys. Better yet, watch the game on NBC, starting at 8:00. If you're lucky, you'll see me and my horrid beard on national TV.

Peace out.

Monday, June 12, 2006

those who find themselves ridiculous sit down next to me

It might seem like it, but I haven't fallen off the face of the earth.

I haven't posted here in over a month, and I have almost nothing to say.

I've been monumentally busy with hockey. Going to the games, writing the blog. I'm obsessive about it. Thanks to the team's success, and my insano mad-man devotion to it, the blog over there has really taken off. When I started writing that thing back in July of last year, I was getting about 40 page loads a day. These days, I can hardly believe my eyes when I look at the statcounter and it tells me I had two days last week where I hit close to 700, and I never get less than 300. Every once in a while, someone comes along and says nice stuff about me, and I've gotten a few mainstream media shoutouts. That's almost as exciting to me as the Canes run to the Cup final. Speaking of which, The Canes are up 2-1 in the best-of-seven Stanley Cup Finals against the Edmonton Oilers, and this is very nearly the only thing I care about right now. When it's all over, the summer months will be less blogtastic over there, and I should be able to resume my writing here.

On Saturday, I went to my friend Bill's house to watch the road game. He had a really fancy, elaborate setup with a high-def projector showing the game on his garage door. We treated it just like it was a home game, cooking brats on the grill and drinking beer in the parking lot. Only the "parking lot" was more like his driveway. The game had an unfavorable end, but the event was fun.

After the game, I thought about driving back from north of Raleigh, but Bill and his wife Beth talked me out of it. Bill and I stayed up for a while watching some of his music dvds. James -- Getting Away With It -- live, which was from the last concert that great band ever performed. We just watched a bit of it, but I really liked it.

Somehow, this got us to watching the Björk Volumen collection, which invariably led us to a discussion about the brilliance of Michel Gondry (including his feature films), Chris Cunningham, Spike Jonze, Stéphane Sednaoui, and anyone who's ever directed her. This led to the bringing out of the Director's Label Boxed set (Volume 2), featuring the works of Sednaoui, Jonathan Glazer, Anton Corbin, and Mark Romanek. We finally settled in on the Glazer collection, which is really awesome.

We had a good time hanging out, watching music videos and all that. For some reason, though, Bill didn't have any of the live Björk stuff. Tonight, I watched, from my own collection, "Live at Shepherd's Bush Empire", from 1997. It really is quite amazing. Quite amazing. I highly recommend it to everyone. Even strangers. Especially strangers. Worth the price of admission are "Headphones", "Possibly Maybe" (with slightly modified, better lyrics) and "Violently Happy". Hard to believe that was almost 10 years ago. Jeez, I'm getting old.

Coming in the very near future -- an exciting post about me clearing out my text messages.

Now playing:
Wilco --Yankee Hotel Foxtrot Demos