Monday, September 17, 2018

Leafs media bootlickers already in nauseating mid-season form

   I have nothing against Toronto Maple Leafs fans.  I really don't.  Even the 40-something guy in the Wendel Clark jersey careening drunkenly through the Bell Center corridors bellowing "Go Leafs go!" after spending the better part of a month's salary on overpriced beer and table dances at Chez Pareé has my grudging respect, because he's part of a larger collective of unconditional fidelity.  Leafs fans are loyal to a fault, which has allowed the franchise to stumble through half a century of futility without suffering economically.  Unlike Montreal Canadiens fans, who turn on their team like rabid wolverines at the first sign of things going south, Leafs Nation is unfailingly true.
   I am less tolerant, however, of the Toronto-based national sports media, whose insufferable pro-Leafs bias alienates millions of Canadian hockey fans outside the southern Ontario bubble.  The Leafs fanboys and fangirls at TSN were vomitous right out of the gate this weekend when @TSNHockey tweeted "And there it is - John Tavares scores his first goal at #MapleLeafs camp."  Seriously.  "And there it is", like it was some kind of watershed historical moment, on a par with "And there it is - the Allies breach Hitler's Atlantic Wall on #DDay" or "And there is it - Jonas Salk perfects the #poliovaccine".  He scored a goal in a training camp scrimmage, ffs.  Keep your shorts on.
   After decades as a perennial laughingstock, the Leafs have built a great young hockey team.  I'm excited for them.  I'm excited for their fans.  But the unprofessional cheerleading from national media groupies who have the platform(s) to foist their obnoxious pro-Leafs agenda on the entire country is why the rest of us are so loathe to wish them well.

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Serena's Hubris Hardly Worthy of Applause (and other Monday morning musings)

   One of sport’s greatest champions risked leaving an indelible stain on her legacy Saturday. Serena Williams’s emotional meltdown in the women’s final at the U.S. Open would have been unbecoming in any professional setting, let alone on a stage as prestigious as the championship match at a Grand Slam tennis tournament. Leaving aside whether her exacerbation with the chair umpire, Carlos Ramos, was justified (which is debatable because Ramos acted well within his mandate), Williams upstaged what should have been a milestone celebration for 20 year old Naomi Osaka, who was reduced to tears by the Serena spectacle when she should have been celebrating the biggest moment of her life.  Williams briefly reclaimed the high ground by shushing the crowd when they tried to shout down the trophy ceremony, but lost it again when she used her post-match news conference to bemoan the (*yawn*) patriarchy.  Her media sycophants actually applauded in the interview room, underscoring yet again the decline of journalism from the pursuit of unvarnished certitude by dedicated truth seekers to a transparent exercise in agenda-driven distortion and virtue-signalling.  Whatever her flaws, Williams has been an admired and respected champion throughout her career, and she wouldn’t lose face to offer up a belated mea culpa for grandstanding at the expense of an opponent who deserved better...Under the circumstances, the Canadiens got a more than respectable return for Max Pacioretty.  The lame duck Habs captain and impending unrestricted free agent was traded to Las Vegas early today for left winger Tomas Tatar, center and 2017 first round draft pick Nick Suzuki and a second rounder in 2019 - an impressive haul considering the Canadiens were known to be shopping Pacioretty and that he has indicated he won't negotiate a contract extension in-season.  What remains unknown and could finally come out in the wash now that the relationship is severed is why Montreal management soured on Pacioretty, who - publicly, at least - has never comported himself as anything other than a consummate professional...Somebody who’s older than 14 and not high on crack needs to approve the pre-game music playlist at College de Valleyfield CÉGEP football games. Big Sean’s “I Don’t Fuck With You” blared from the PA system during the warmup for the Noir et Or’s Saturday night tilt with the John Abbott College Islanders, replete with non-stop f-bombs and n-bombs to make it easier for Grandma and the kids to sing along.  It was the sporting event equivalent of playing the Rodeo Song for the first dance at a wedding reception...I’m not in the Colin Kaepernick camp on how to effect positive social change, but I won’t be setting any of my belongings on fire unless I have insurance and an alibi.

Monday, May 7, 2018

Habs Twitter Takes a Lick From Marchand


   Douchebaggery has gone mainstream.
   Unfettered by regulatory restraints and contemptuous of longstanding professional standards and ethics, “cutting edge” online media is blazing a trail of lowbrow twaddle that makes the supermarket tabloid rack look like a repository for Pulitzer Prize finalists.  My personal favorites (and by favorites I mean they make me want to take my own life) in the precipitous decline of journalistic integrity are VICE and Buzzfeed.  VICE, which actually does some quality journalism, are the masters of self-sabotage.  It’s equal parts appalling and discouraging that an organization that produces powerful and compelling journalism like VICE’s Russian Roulette series on the civil war in Ukraine is also responsible for articles like “The Five Times I’ve (Literally) Shit My Pants” and “We Asked Some Girls About How They Masturbate”.  Buzzfeed doesn’t even bother trying to emulate VICE’s occasional forays into relevant journalism, opting to focus exclusively on the sensationally trivial.  How better to dispense with the notion of credibility than churning out such vacuous pablum as “11 Delightful Poems Found in Pornhub Comments” and “This Artist Imagined Famous Women in History on Their Period and It’s Beautiful”?  (I’m not making any this up, but I’m not linking the articles because that would just be feeding the beast.)
   All of that is the long way of getting to this: while VICE and Buzzfeed are products of their time, no individual or organization - no matter how venerable or respectable - is immune from the siren song of online dipshittery, not even the (deep breath) Montreal Canadiens.  
After the Boston Bruins were eliminated from the Stanley Cup playoffs Sunday, the Canadiens official Twitter account took a thinly veiled shot at Bruins forward and noted licker-of-faces Brad Marchand.

   In and of itself, the tweet was marginally clever and relatively inoffensive, but it’s the source that matters here more than the content.  If I’m Canadiens owner Geoff Molson, everything my franchise does publicly should be filtered through the Beliveau Standard; in other words, is it in keeping with the class and distinction consistently demonstrated by the most universally admired and respected individual ever to represent the CH on and off the ice?  The short answer here is no.
   Along with straying from a century-old norm for propriety, the cracker-of-wise behind the Canadiens Twitter account made the mistake of leading with their chin as well as their thumbs, and Marchand willingly obliged.
   Final score: @Bmarch63 1 @CanadiensMTL 0
   Look, I get that it’s 2018 and we live in edgier times than when Jean Beliveau was saying and doing all the right things while routinely parading the Stanley Cup down Ste. Catherine Street.  But change for its own sake isn’t always change for the better, and an iconic brand that was built on honour and dignity is something to be trifled with at its own peril. 

Sunday, July 3, 2016

The P.K. trade: disappointing but understandable

    One of the most telling tweets in the immediate aftermath of the P.K. Subban trade didn't come from a journalist or a teammate or anyone otherwise involved in the day-to-day machinations of the Montreal Canadiens.  
   It came from a chef.

   David McMillan is the co-owner and public face of what is arguably Montreal's trendiest and most renowned restaurant - Joe Beef (along with upscale sister properties Liverpool House and Le Vin Papillon).  He's a star in his own right, and a straight shooter with strong convictions.
   Reading between the lines of his tweet, it's not unreasonable to speculate that the celebrity chef at a favorite haunt of wealthy young hockey players witnessed some behind-the-scenes dynamics that journalists aren't privy to, and garnered some insight from unguarded conversations over several bottles of fine wine.  McMillan's tweet didn't betray anyone's trust, but it reinforced the theory that Subban put himself before the team.  
   And really, what logical reason was there to trade Subban if he hadn't become an untenable presence in the organization?  An immensely talented player entering his prime athletic years should be untouchable.  Add to that his enormous and almost universal popularity among the fan base and the unprecedented commitment to the community in the form of a $10 million dollar fundraising initiative for the Montreal Children's Hospital, and it's unthinkable that the Canadiens would send such a team and community pillar packing.  Unless...
   The racism trope doesn't pass muster in explaining the trade.  I don't doubt for a minute that there's latent racism among some who don't even realize that their dislike for P.K. is rooted in an outdated mentality, but hockey is a business, and an asset of Subban's caliber isn't surrendered on the grounds that he's "uppity".  As much as the notion of the self-confident black man not "knowing his place" no longer applies, neither should behavior detrimental to the greater good be excused or rationalized by playing the race card.
   I was as surprised and disappointed as most Canadiens fans when I heard that Subban was traded.  Shea Weber will be an excellent defenceman and leader for the Habs, but P.K. transcended the game and was part of the fabric of Montreal.  That's what makes it sad.  But as P.K. himself said when he was asked about trade rumours, "where there's smoke, there's fire".  There were smoke signals aplenty that Subban had outworn his welcome, and that whatever his talents and contributions on the ice, they were no longer worth the aggravation.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Me 1 Cancer 0

Entry 7 in the colorectal cancer blog journal "I've Got a Mass in My Ass"

   "So, Dr. Evil, we meet again" is probably the wrong thing to say to a guy who's about to go wrist deep into your rectal cavity to lube you up for a scoping procedure, and maybe that's why my colorectal surgeon lingered in the area in question longer than seemed necessary to me, but the indignity and discomfort were worth the end result (Get it? End result?)   
   Seven months and change after being diagnosed with a rectal tumour, I appear to be cancer-free.  The tumour is gone, and while the Rear Admiral did a biopsy for confirmation purposes, he seemed confident that the worst is behind me. (Get it?  Behind me?)  There will still be a round of preventive chemotherapy to lessen the chances of the cancer recurring, but what's a little fatigue, hair loss, constipation/diarrhea, mouth sores, sensitivity to cold and numbness in the extremities if it means increasing your odds of holding the Big C at bay?
    Not to tempt fate, but I'm half-expecting the other shoe to drop.  To be handed a provisional clean bill of health well under a year after being diagnosed, with no side effects from radiation or the first round of chemo and no ill effects in general seems too good to be true.  I'm enormously grateful because I've seen first hand how lucky I am compared to other people who are fighting a life and death battle against cancer.  Relatively speaking, I'm winning a skirmish, and I'm not taking credit for any of it.  My recovery is all about the grace of God, support from family and friends and the dedication of health care professionals who provide yeoman's service despite being routinely sabotaged by politicians and bureaucrats.  All I had to do was show up.  
   So it's all good.  God willing, any anal probing from this point on will be strictly recreational, and that ain't happening.  To each their own, but on my highway of life, that's an exit lane only.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

If Social Justice Warriors actually went to war

   Every generation is a product of its time, from the genuinely hard-done-by kids who grew up in the 1930s Depression era and were rewarded for their hardscrabble existence by being shipped off to war in the 1940s, to the pampered, entitled millennials of today. That said, I have no doubt the youth of today would respond to similar challenges with the same courage and determination of their forebears - and maybe just a dash of their own 21st century hypersensitive campus culture. 


To: All ranks
From: Supreme Allied Command
Date: June 30, 1944 (D-Day plus 24)

It has come to our attention that since arriving in enemy-occupied territory, some of you have experienced difficulty in making the admittedly jarring transition from the relative comforts of your training bases in the United Kingdom to the soul-shattering horrors of daily life in an active war zone. While circumstances are such that a certain amount of trauma - up to and including sudden, violent death - is inevitable, your superior officers recognize that they are duty-bound to minimize the physical and psychological hardships of constant exposure to deadly combat. To that end, the Allied Expeditionary Force has undertaken several initiatives aimed at ensuring that all troops are exposed to the absolute minimum of terror and carnage, to wit:

SAFE SPACES: also known as foxholes, these rudimentary shelters are designed to provide a modicum of safety and relief from hostile fire on the field of battle. Pinpoint artillery barrages and lethally accurate sniper fire can be insensitive and hurtful, so dig deep and stay close to your safe space at all times. Remember, the enemy does not have your best interests at heart because of cultural differences that help make up the global mosaic that is so vibrant and wonderful when nations and peoples are not trying to wipe each other from the face of the earth. 

TRIGGER WARNINGS: these verbal red flags are meant to advise troops of the imminent risk of death or mutilation so that you can get to your safe space before being torn limb from limb. The standard trigger warning for all units is "Incoming!", although "Get your fucking head down!" and "Put out that fucking cigarette!" are also commonplace, especially in units with battle-tested sergeant-majors who've beaten the odds by staying alive for more than one week. If you don't hear a trigger warning, it means you're already dead. 

OFFICER PRIVILEGE: Officer privilege comes in many forms, from superior meals and sleeping quarters to ordering lower ranks to almost certain death from the relative safety of a fortified command post. Officer privilege has existed for as long as there have been armies, and remains a leading cause of resentment and other emotional distress in the enlisted ranks, to which we - the officers - say "Too fucking bad."

For further information, please contact:

Social Justice Command
Allied Expeditionary Force
Some liberated whorehouse in Normandy

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Grow up, Cam

   One of the best tests of a person's character is how they react in adverse circumstances. It's a test Cam Newton failed miserably in the immediate aftermath of Super Bowl 50.
   Newton was all smiles and confidence heading into the game, and why wouldn't he be?  Twenty-four hours removed from being named the NFL's Most Valuable Player for quarterbacking pro football's most potent offence to a league-best record, Newton and the Carolina Panthers were sitting pretty as 5-and-a-half point favorites over Denver.  Not one to shun the limelight in good times, Newton lapped up the accolades and strutted his considerable style in the Super Bowl run-up - even wearing gold cleats with "MVP" emblazoned on them during the pre-game warmup.  That might have been the last straw for karma, which grabbed Newton by the throat at kickoff and didn't let go until the final gun sounded on an utterly humiliating 24-10 loss on the biggest stage in professional sports.

   The subsequent one-man sulkfest was probably the most sullen display since Bill Belichick's next-level brooding after the New York Giants ended New England's bid for a perfect season in Super Bowl 42.  No one expected Newton to come bouncing into the media room sprinkling bon mots like fairy dust, but between his body language and shallow, monosyllabic answers to relevant questions, he made Leonard Cohen look Charo on a three-night molly bender.
   Not everyone thought Newton was out of line for refusing to engage the media in a meaningful way.  There was the predictable race-baiting from the usual social justice warrior suspects claiming Newton was being hated on only because he's black - although that doesn't explain the thoroughly derisive welcome lily white New England quarterback Tom Brady received when past Super Bowl MVPs were introduced before the game - and there are those who say their only expectations from athletes are on the field of play.  Be that as it may, the overwhelming majority of football fans undoubtedly wanted to know what the league MVP had to say after totally shitting the bed in the Super Bowl, and whether or not Newton or anyone else likes it, he has a professional obligation to accommodate them.  Media relations are part of the job description, and Newton was thoroughly and inexcusably unprofessional in the way he handled those obligations.   
   Newton doubled down two days after the Super Bowl, refusing to apologize and trotting out the shopworn "show me a good loser and I'll show you a loser" excuse for behaving like a petulant child.  No one likes to lose, but show me a gracious loser and I'll show you a man ready for the next level of success. Newton clearly learned nothing from a valuable experience.  As long as his attitude remains unchanged, he is unworthy of being called a champion.