Friday, March 30, 2007

Morris Peterson, Chuck Swirsky, and How Raptors TV Ruined My Night

Tonight was the exact reason I absolutely abhor Raptors TV. Friday night, have the pa d to myself, don't much feel like going out because I know I'll be engaged in a debaucherous gong show tomorrow night, Raps have a key Eastern Conference and potential playoff matchup against Agent Zero and the boys (by the way, Agent Zero has to be the coolest nickname in basketball, just slightly ahead of The Truth and about a thousand notches above The 'Stache), and I'm all geared up to settle in for a night of hoops and work. But when I flick through all of the sports stations, the only thing I can find is Lacrosse and Wrestling (not that there's anything wrong with wrestling, for the record). I was utterly devestated.

As it turned out, this particular game will probably go down as one of the three greatest finishes in Raptors history, and I was forced to watch it unfold on the ESPN ticker, with my co mputer uploading every 15 seconds to give me the updated score. I felt like a young Mike Foley being conscripted to a childhood of watching Jays games on The Score before it was an actual television station with actual programming, showing only intermittantly updated scores of the games with a commendable oldies soundtrack simulcasted from 1150AM in the background from which to groove and subsequently ease the pain. But I felt that pain tonight, and as my computer uploaded and showed o:00 4th followed by the blurb Morris Peterson makes 32-foot three point jumper, I leapt out of my chair screaming with both elation (for
Mo) and contempt (for the bastards at Raps TV who made me miss the play live), while trying to imagine what octave the Swirsk's voice reached as he undoubtedly screamed "ARE YO U KIDDING ME?!?! ONIONS BABY!!! ONIONS!!!!!!

But it wasn't until I saw the actual replay that I realized exactly what I'd been deprive d of. That was the most ridiculous circus three I've ever seen, and I'm pretty sure I would have hit the ceiling whlie yelping like a sophmore sorority girl finding the G-spot for the first ti m e h ad I seen it in real time. Lord love Morris Peterson and his
initially-intended-to-be-a-protest-against-every-GM-that-passed-him-up-in-the-2000 draft- headband. Absolutely off the charts. By the way, the line of the night came from The Score's Sid Seixeiro, who quipped: "Chuck got so excited on that call that he bruised his Salami and Cheese". Classic.

Speaking of The Swirsk, I just leaned an incredible tidbit about our boy Chuck. Did you know that that great SNL skit with the Superfans ("Da Bears") was named after our very own Chuck Swirsky? That's right. "The Aki Berg of the Fan Radio Network" was the inspiration behind Bill Swerski's Superfans. I've never had more respect for the man.

On to the final four. I can't imagine it being possible to be more jacked for Saturday's games than I currently am. The one great thing about there being a complete lack of any hint of upset this year was the quality of play this past weekend. Honestly, that Ohio State comeback on Thursday night was one for the ages, culminating in that ridiculous Oden block to end the game. Didn't think that one could ever be outdone, and then Georgetown pulls the miracle off against UNC, not only setting up one of the greatest big-man showdowns this Saturday night, but allowing me to go 4 for 4 in my final four bracket. With a Florida win tomorrow, I pretty much sew up the coveted salutation of Hurricane's 2007 NCAA Bracket Champion... or something like that. I can't imagine there's any kind of a trophy or formal presentation, and to be honest, I don't think there are a great number of people who care at this point, but I'll end up with a decent chunk of coin, at the very least. And bragging rights for the rest of my life (I went 4 for 4 back in 2001 {Maryland, Michigan St., and Duke over Arizona in the final} but finished second in the massive BMO/Nesbitt Burns pool, getting nothing but my money back for my efforts).

Enjoy the weekend, enjoy the killer Hoops action Saturday night, and if you happen to come across any Raptors TV brass in your travels, be sure to give them a swift kick in the nuts for me.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Assessing the Damage

It's always tough to come back after a weekend like the one we just had: 36 hours of basketball-watching, 18 consecutive hours of drinking, about six hours of sleep... But before getting into the St. Patty's Day debauchery, just a few quick notes on the tournament.

It may have been a little presumptuous of me to refer to the Tennessee B-ball squad as overrated considering I'd only seen them in action once this year, and that was a game in which they completely annihilated a Vanderbilt team that I picked to go to the Sweet-16. Obviously, I should have taken that into consideration. As is often the case, the so-called experts that I found myself reading and listening to didn't really turn out to be experts at all. Idiot. I should really go back to picking teams based on their mascots (thereby taking UCSC to the final every year because their team name is The Banana Slugs. The good news is that Ronnie bagged $50 off the Vols win (they only managed to cover the spread by 27 points), and with my big money wager on UNLV, I managed to somehow break even, a fitting outcome that won't tempt me into breaking the rule I currently have which states that I can't bet on sports unless I, or somebody I'm related to, am in Vegas to do so. Good, clean, healthy living.

I was pretty disappointed by the lack of upsets in the first two rounds, and not only because I had VCU (11), O.D.U. (12), Long Beach State (12) in the sweet-16; but because the big-time upsets are usually what the first weekend is all about. Could there ever be anything better than watching George Mason beat UConn last year to reach the final four? To be honest, I couldn't tell you because I was sitting next to a total stranger on a six-hour bus ride through the mountains of Ecuador for that entire game, left only to repeatedly smash my head against the window with the knowledge that I would give my right arm to be sitting in a Motel 6 somewhere on the outskirts of Akron, watching the game on cable. But I digress. Despite the lack of Cinderella sightings this year, there were some pretty decent games that went down to the wire; it's just too bad that most of these took place on Saturday when I was too drunk to realize that a world might actually exist beyond the four pints of Guiness I had constantly lined up in front of me all day and night.
Despite the fact that Foley and I didn't exactly get around to buying eachother the drinks we owe one another (see above sentence), I managed to keep 7 of my 8 elite eight teams alive (only losing Texas), and all 4 of my final four teams. So there's a good chance the man may owe me more than a few by the time it's all said and done.

On Friday afternoon, I couldn't resist emailing the great Mike Jarvis, just to see if I could get a rise out of him. Somebody beat me to the Artest question (he handled it like the diplomatic gentleman that he is), so I came back a little later on with something else. The following exchange actually took place, via email:


If you're in town for the weekend, what are your plans for St. Patrick's day? As a huge St. John's fan, I'd love to be able to buy you a drink for that fantastic run in '99.

Sean, Toronto.

The question obviously never made it to air, but I happen to know a girl who works in the newsroom at The Score, and she instantly recognized that the question, in all likelihood, came from her Johnnies-obsessed ex-boyfriend. She emailed me back later with the following response.

Talked to Coach about going for a drink- he said, “male or female?” I said…”male”… he responded “nawwwwwwwwww”


Classic Coach J.

As for St. Patrick's Day, as usual, it began early for me. Up at the crack of 10 for a wee shot of McCallum (for Bob), and then off to Hurricane's to drop Sandra off at work. Had a lovely wee fry at the 'cane, along with a Jameson on the rocks, and then it was off to Vera's place to pick up Sully. By that point, Nate was already at The Pour House holding down the fort like the dedicated St. Patty's Day soldier that he is. Sully and I split a Guinness at Vera's, and then she dropped us off at the bar where we were already feelin' fine and green. It was a little before 1pm.

We managed to grab another table next to Nate, and the result was our own little section next to the bar's fireplace and within close proximity to both the bathroons and the TVs (they had soccer on in the beginning, but we managed to get that changed to hoops in a hurry). From there, things are a little blurry. I was in on a tab with Sully, which is never the best idea, as evidenced by the fact that our waitress came by at 7 pm with our bill, after which we handed her $250 without thinking twice. I have no idea how many pints we had, but at some point I thought it would be a good idea to get a picture taken of me licking Skeeter's belly. So apparently I had more than was necessary.

My sister and Blake showed up (my sister all the way from Nashville, Blake from Guelph), as well as most of the annual regulars: Nate and Jen, Dunner and his Sis, Foley and the Dish, Skeeter and his aforementioned belly... There was even an Edleman there, mind you it was not Uncle Johnny and his March 17th birthday-boy debauchery; but instead Rick, who after waiting in line for three hours (they tented off the patio and made it a licensed line), finally made it into the bar completely smashed. T-Dogg was representing the girls from HOWSE, and Santos was representing Portugal. A throwback version of Damen even made an appearance, and he was in as fine a form as ever, falling old-skool and shit-canned ass-over-tea-kettle in the booth during the Leafs-Habs shootout and remaining stuck between the table and chair for the rest of the game with his feet sticking straight up in the air, everybody too busy pissing themselves to help him up. Ronnie phoned in from Vegas in the middle of it all to get in on the action, and I meant to drop Flats a line because we were supposed to be down there with him getting ridiculous on Chowda and Sam Adams, but the fact was that The Pour House wasn't exactly conducive to phone conversations, so I never got around to it. I also meant to call my Grandma that day and didn't manage to do so. Ditto for my parents. Just blame it on tha drink.

The one bad part of the night was that Lisa and Trish ended up having money stolen out of their purses. I have no idea how this happened because we were all standing and sitting right there and their purses were in the booth the entire time. I'm still totally dumbfounded by how it happened, but it would have been worth it all if Blake had somehow managed to find out who dunnit. There was a good chance that things might have gotten medieval; real ugly, real quick. But we managed to have a blast anyway, and piled happily into a cab for a drunken ride home at last call... Well, at least it felt like last call. I was absolutely shocked (a la Rob Goldenberg) when I looked at the cabbie's clock and it read 10:58pm. So we decided to stop in and see Sandra, who was still working at the 'cane, and she served us up a round of Jim-Jack-and-John shots that just about everyone could have done without, along with a few pints of Guiness and about a thousand glasses of water. We loaded up the jukebox with Pogues and Van tunes, but were out of the door before we ever got to hear them.

By the time we got back to my place, Dunner was sawwing logs on the couch, and I figured we'd be doing the same soon enough. But Lisa was kind enough to bring me back three beautiful bottles of Bourbon from Tennessee (Corner Creek Reserve, George Dickel Original Tennessee, and Rebel Yell Kentucky Straight). Obviously, it would have been rude to go to bed without a wee Dickel, so we cracked the bottle while listening to Steve Earle (by Dunner's request, which he slept through entirely). That first taste went down so well that we decided to have another. And then another. And then yet another. And by the time Sully and I knew what had hit us, we'd listened and sung along to such beautifully tear-jerking vinyl classics as Van's Into The Mystic, Neil's Helpless (acoustic) and After the Goldrush (studio cut), Cocker's With a Little Help From My Friends, The Beach Boys God Only Knows, the entire second record on Dylan's genius twin Blonde on Blonde, and Seger's Night Moves. Just another night in Eric Foreman's basement.

At some point, Sandra came home from work and tried to join in on the festivities, but apparently we were muttering such incoherent drunken jibberish that she decided she'd have a more satisfying level of social interaction by going upstairs to bed where she could pet the cat we're currently babysitting. Strange, because I thought we were making perfect sense. I went to bed sometime after 4:30, completely oblivious as to how I managed to endure such a sloppy, drunken marathon

All in all, a pretty beautiful St. Patrick's Day. It wasn't the same without Ronnie and my parents there. And it hasn't been the same since ol' Bob left us. But we did our best to make him proud, and you can bet your last pint that he was up there havin' one for us, just as we were havin' one too many for him.

Mississauga Ball Hockey Champs or Bad Styx Cover Band?

This photograph, taken in 1980 of a bunch of the guys we currently play hockey with in the famed OTHL, makes me realize two things. The first is that we clearly need to take more team photographs. Nothing captures an era quite like a bunch of dudes standing around trying to keep from laughing as they do their best to look as bad-assed as possible while wearing hideous uniforms and (in this case) skin-tight pants and/or skimpy-Stockton shorts. And the second realization is that perm and mustache need to come back into fashion... I mean, just look at that. Go on. Click on the photo to enlarge it... Spectacular.

Friday, March 16, 2007

The Madness Continues...

Just got a call from Ronnie in Vegas. He was at some rat hole sports book and put a couple of bets down for me. I have:

UNLV +2 over Georgia Tech (how a 7-seed is an underdog to a 10 I’ll never know, but I’ll take the points any day. By the way, as I write this, UNLV is up 31-17 with 2 minutes to go in the half)

I also have Long Beach State + 8 over (what I consider to be) a highly overrated Tennessee Volunteers Squad. It should be noted that Ronnie put $50 on his Vols, so this should make for an interesting call from my bro, coming live from the Caesar’s Palace sports book in about three hours.

I can’t begin to tell you how excited I am to see one of the greatest coaches in St. John’s history, live all day on The Score. Not since Sweet Lou Carnesecca were the Johnnies in such good hands, and it was sad to see him go, particularly since his dismissal was absolutely no fault of his own. It’s just not the same tuning into the once-a-year nationally televised Johnies game without seeing Uncle Phil marching up and down the court with his arms crossed, looking like he’s about to strangle Will for getting Carleton a job as a male stripper. I’m seriously considering writing in to The Score to ask him about his year coaching Ron Artest, just to see if we can get that crazed look in his eyes again.

A few quick notes on the first day of the tourney:

A pretty non-descript opening day, especially considering everything that went down last year. I had the VCU upset in my bracket, mainly because love nothing more than watching Duke go down in the tournament. My other upsets didn’t exactly pan out, but Davidson made a game of it, and the mini-Del Curry was absolutely off his ass. He’ll be fun to watch for the next 3 years.

I managed to go 13-16, and only lost one sweet sixteen pick (my long-shot ODU, which looks ridiculous in retrospect)

When I last spoke to Foley (at 9:30 last night), he owed me three beverages to my one. And if I know Foley the way I think I do, chances are he took BYU over Xavier, primarily because he models his game after a young Hoffa Araujo. So it could be up to four heading into today’s action.

If you want to know what March Madness is all about, you have to check out The Sports Guy’s running diary from yesterday’s action. His two buddies flew in from out of town, and when you factor in the 3-hour time difference, his peanut gallery started drinking at 9 in the morning, making for some fantastic reading. Full of basketball acumen, pop-culture commentary, Borat references, and inappropriate Oral Robets jokes. Vintage Simmons.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Upset City

Without a doubt, this is my favourite weekend of the year. Not only do we get to drink ourselves into a ridiculously drunken stupour by throwing back an endless barage of Guiness and Bushmills while listening to The Pogues, Van Morrison, and Thin Lizzie; but we get to do so while watching the NCAA tournament. Is there a better way to spend a Saturday afternoon?

Well, there might have been. My buddy Foley and I were supposed to head down to Boston this weekend for 48 hours of South-Boston St. Patty's Day good times. Our good pal Flats just recently moved down there and had an absurdly debaucherous game plan all laid out that included visits to The Beacon Hill Pub and Black Thorn Bar (a Southie staple), as well as diggin' on some world famous chouda at The Barking Crab and a slice of killer pie at Pinocchio's, ultimately culminating at the favourite stomping grounds of whichever one of Holy Cross or Boston College manages to advance. It had the potential to warrant the kind of recap that could eclipse even the Nashville debacle that almost caused my brain to melt while attempting to write it earlier in the week. But alas, the plan was ixnayed at the last minute due to some unforseen commitments on the part of my travel-mate (to quote the man himself: "I may or may not hang myself with my tie from a ceiling fan").

But not to worry, because this gives me the chance to spend St. Patrick's day in Toronto - something I was unable to do last year because I was busy sitting on a boat and drinking Ecuadorian Pilsener somewhere off the shores of the Galapagos Islands; a memorable St. Patrick's day to be sure, but hardly the vomiting-your-Irish-stew-on-the-dancefloor-while-jigging-to-Dirty-Old-Town type of experience that I've come to love and expect. So in a way, I'm almost happy about the roaddie being postponed. But the question remains: how do you adequately incorporate both the madness of the NCAAs, and the madness of the 17th of March? For a guy who is more than content to watch his bracket being busted from the comforts of his living room, merrily screaming obscenities at the TV in his underwear, this can pose quite a dilema. But I think I may have come up with the perfect solution.

I originally devised this scheme while brainstorming on ways to pass the time on the nine hour drive to Beantown, on which we would have forced us to listen to all of the Thursday night games (utter sacrilege, I know). The plan was for Foley and I to each fill out our brackets Wednesday night, as is the custom, and then to go head-to-head in each and every game in the opening round. On the line? A beverage for every game. For example: if I'd picked VCU over Duke, and Foley had the loathsome Blue Demons taking down the Rams, there would be a drink riding on the outcome of the game; meaning that when VCU pulls off the inevitable upset, Foley will owe me a wee Jameson on the rocks. Simple stuff. And in the event that we both picked the same team, as would surely be the case with the obvious 12-5 upset of ODU over Butler, we'd throw the spread in and do a best two-out-of-three rock-paper-scissors to see who takes who.

Each and every game would be intense because every game would have something riding on it, and the fact that you'd be going one-on-one with one of your buddies would mean that you'd be given the opportunity to scream obscenities, not simply at the TV, but also at the guy you'll be buying drinks for. Unlike most March Madness pools, the payoff for making the right call would be almost immediate. And perhaps most importantly, engaging in this type of bracket-boozing pretty well gurantees the best St. Patrick's Day you'll ever have. And as for Saturday's games, when most everyone's brackets will surely be as annihilated as the men's room at The Pour House? Just bet on the spread, and make sure you take a cab home.

One more March Madness note. My brother Ronnie is in Las Vegas this weekend doing some work for the Champ Car race scheduled to go down in early April, and I have to say, that might be the coolest place to watch the tournament. I would give just about anything to sit in the Mirage sports book all day Thursday watching the action go down. And I don't even gamble. But Ronnie has promised to give me a shout from one of the books Friday night so I can listen in on the action and throw a sawbuck down on Creighton-Nevada to hedge myself against any losses incurred at the hands of young Foley this weekend.

Completely unrelated: I found an absolutely hilarious site chronicling a group of white wannabe gangstas; the self-proclaimed 40oz Crew; on their quest to drink as many 40 ouncers in as many different locals as possible. The site is strangely addictive, and sadly reminded me a lot of a past life of mine. Pretty funny stuff, and if nothing else, can be highly motivational in the face of the damage you will inflict on your body this weekend.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Lester Murphy meets Music City

It had been awhile since we’d last been down to see my sister in Nashville, TN, so with the Leafs making their regularly scheduled visit to Music City on Thursday night (once every five years, like clockwork - you can set your watch to it), we figured that this was as good a time as any to head south.

This roaddie began like just about every other, with me heading to the car rental joint and signing the contract which explicitly states that I will NOT, under any circumstances, allow the automobile to leave the Province of Ontario, nor will I allow any persons other than myself to operate the vehicle, conceding that the former will void the “unlimited kilometres” clause, and that the latter will probably make it impossible for me to ever obtain car insurance again. But really, what are the chances of being caught doing either of these? 1 in 5? 1 in 3, tops? Odds I somehow convinced myself I could live with. I handed over the credit card without batting a lash, and when the dude asked me where I was headed for the weekend, I answered without hesitation: “Wawa. Ice fishing.”

Unlike most other road trips, however, this particular venture happened to commence on a Wednesday night, which meant that we couldn’t actually take off until both Ronnie and I finished our weekly athletic endeavours (we lost to Skeeter’s team in OT; Ronnie’s boys beat up on the hapless Habs), which meant that Sandra and Sully had to sit up in the bar and watch the humiliating display of quasi-athleticism that The Old-Time Hockey League attempts to pass itself off as. I’m pretty sure Sandra spent most of the time playing video games, and I couldn’t be certain of what Sully was up to (ignorance is such sweet, sweet bliss), but he borrowed the car keys at some point because he claimed he needed to go home to 'pick something up', and by the time I got up to the bar after my game, he was downing a pint of Canadian and chasing it with two shots of Jack. You got the feeling it was gonna be that kind of a weekend.

We didn’t actually leave the rink until close to midnight, and we’d managed to drive a grand total of 3 kms before Sully began his usual antics, forcing us to make the first pit stop – at the house which he’d just come from – because he realized there was no way in hell he could handle a twelve hour drive without a bottle of wine to suck back en route. After grabbing a 1 litre bottle of white and undoubtedly taking a couple of hits off of crazy Emmett’s wacky tabacky, we were at long last on our way, with Sandra and Sully giving us the ol’ Davie-Walsh-in-the-back-seat-of-the-Hunter-mobile treatment, alternately hacking lung darts at the rate of one for every five minutes travel time; in the smoke-free rental, no less, rolling their windows down the absolute minimal half-inch each time because the weather was so God damned cold (-25, in no one’s defence), as Ronnie and I succumbed to our inevitable fate of twelve-hours-worth of black boogers. Good times all around. Every time Sully pulled out a cancer stick, he’d just look back at Ronnie and laugh, saying something to the effect of: “Hey, you can’t get mad. You invited me. You knew what you were getting.” Did I mention that he was pretty well shit-canned by this point?

We made pretty decent time on the highway because we managed to miss the morning rush hour by about 4 hours. By the time we got to the border it was three-thirty in the morning, but the great thing about three-thirty in the morning at the border is that it doesn’t matter what time it is at the duty-free shop because you can buy dirt-cheap booze, in bulk, at any hour of the day or night, and apparently it doesn’t even matter if you’re half in the bag while you do so, either.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with Sully, let me give you a brief description of the man because, in a lot of ways, he is the star of this tale. A few months back I was watching Rounders with my dad and my brother; an absolutely essential flick, but one that I hadn’t seen in a few years. After about fifteen minutes, just about the time Ed Norton’s character makes his first appearance on screen, it dawned us that, holy fuck, that’s SULLY!!! And I don’t just mean, ‘hey, we have this buddy, totally the best guy in the world, known him forever, he’ll take a bullet for you if that’s what it takes but he tends to run his mouth a little and has a propensity for getting you into a fuck load more trouble than you might like, but what the hell are you gonna do, right? It’s Sully. That’s who he is.’ It isn't enough that Sully resembles Worm in that capacity; our boy actually looks like the mid-nineties Norton, and the present day Sully just happens to wear the same long, thin leather jacket that Mikey Mc D’s foil sports in the 1998 classic. I shit you not, Sully is an ace-up his-sleeve-tatter away from becoming the world's first Lester Murphy impersonator. By the time we were finished watching that movie a few months back, we were saying things like: ‘Sully isn’t like Worm; he actually is Worm’.

So this is what we were faced with as we stepped into the duty-free shop at the Windsor-Detroit border at 3:30 in the morning: a drunk, high, sleep-deprived version of Worm.

As soon as we stepped inside immediately went in for the kill, wanting to get in and out as soon as possible, it being 3:30 in the morning and all. I grabbed a big boy bottle of Jack Daniel’s (essential sipping for any trip to the volunteer state), and Ronnie grabbed a case of Bullets. Sully deliberated at length before finally deciding on three bottles of vodka, but at the checkout line he realized that if he purchased 3 bottles of Crown Royal, we’d get a pass that would allow us to cross the Ambassador Bridge without having to pay the $4 toll. Sully, in his inebriated state, somehow misconstrued this coupon to save on the toll as, buy three bottles of Crown Royal and you have a free pass through customs, no questions asked. I still have no idea how this happened. He insisted on buying all six bottles, even as the girl (who Ronnie and Sully were hitting on incessantly) was telling us that we were exceeding our limit and that the customs agent would have to pull us over and charge us for every extra bottle. Didn’t matter to Sully. Making matters even more interesting was the fact that, as Ronnie and Sully were hitting on our cashier, the white trash dude wearing a Syracuse jacket in line behind us became irrationally impatient and said something to the effect of, ‘hey, I’m in a bit of a rush here, so why don’t you let me go first so you can have your social hour later’. Sully obviously couldn’t let this snide little remark go, so with the tension building faster than in the final thirty seconds of any given hour in Jack Bauer's life, Sully, not even looking at the guy, comes back with: “Sorry my friend. We’re in more of a rush than you are. We have to drive all the way to Nashville tonight, so why don’t you just cool your jets, there, Syracuse…” A manager came running from out of nowhere to help the guy at another register, and Sully and Ronnie to go back to the game of trying to guess where our cashier was from (after much speculation, it was determined that she originally hailed from St. Catherines. Fascinating, I know). We were fucking dying on our way out the door, pointing out how only Sully could cause a near Donnybrook in the Duty Free checkout.

Ten minutes later we were sitting at the customs booth, waiting for the border patrol guy to get back to his hut (we figured his was dropping a deuce, and having us rush him didn't exactly leave him in the best mood). As we sat there, I realized that I didn’t have my passport on me, and that I’d taken my birth certificate out of my wallet about a year ago when I was down in South America because I didn’t want to lose it if my wallet got pooched. Big F-up. Anyway, when the ultra-pissed off customs dude finally got back, he started hammering away with inane questions, asking me what my citizenship was (I told him Canadian), and then following it up by condescendingly asking if he was supposed to guess where I was born because I didn’t have a birth certificate on me. I told him he could guess if he wanted to, so of course he came back with ‘Russian?’. Cocksucker. We’d pretty much managed to get through the inquisition until he asked: ‘Bringing any tobacco or alcohol across the border?’ I said, yeah, we had a couple of duty free bottles. When he asked, ‘how many is a couple’, I reluctantly responded: ‘Seven”. Ronnie then added from the backseat, ‘and a case of beer’. It was at this point that Sully tried to hand the guy the free pass he was under the impression would permit us to proceed through customs without any further questioning. The customs agent just shook his head with a big, shit-eating grin, and then told us, in no uncertain terms, to pull the fuck over.

We were only stuck in the holding room for about fifteen minutes, sharing our disgust at the situation with a trio of obscenity slinging, Bush-and-Homeland-Security-bashing Michigan grad students who claimed they get pulled over every time they venture over to Casino Windsor because one of the guys happens to have been born in England. The border guys half-heartedly searched the car for awhile (I was shitting myself, considering the possibility of their tearing the panels off the doors, which in turn would have made it rather difficult to convince the rental car company that we hadn’t crossed the border), the only casualties being their confiscation of our box of mandarins and Sully’s having to pay $22 worth of duty. I found it strange how Sully was nervously watching the border patrol going through our trunk the entire time and overcompensating with the customs people buy chattering incessantly, but I just chalked it up to his accumulated inebriation. It wasn’t until we’d been released and had pulled away from the border (and handed the toll booth lady our free pass, saving a grand total of $4), that Sully said something to the effect of: ‘Holy Shit! I was fucking shitting myself back there! WOO-HOO!!! Those motherfuckers ain’t gettin my weed!!’ I nearly drove off the fucking road. At first I thought he was kidding, and then he implored me to pull over, saying that his nerves were so jittery that he needed to smoke a little one-pape to calm him down. When I eventually pulled over, sure enough, he dug a little baggie from out of his duffle bag. I was absolutely floored.

I not sure that this requires any further comment, but just for future reference, if you’re going to be smuggling marijuana over the border, my recommendation would be not to exceed your duty-free limit, an act which guarantees that you will be pulled over by customs officials so they can search your car while levying your fine. Unbelievable. To his credit though (if you can call it that), Sully didn’t tell me about his muling operation beforehand, probably because he knew that our border crossing would have gone something like this:

Border Patrol: “Citizenship?”
Me: “…..Uh… I think…. Oh my God! We have POT IN THE CAR!!! Please have mercy on us….”

For the next three hours we drove with Ronnie and Sandra sleeping in the backseat, their windows being slowly covered with a thin layer of ice on the inside while Sully fiddled with the radio and tried to tell me how to drive. It eventually got to the point where he was badgering me to let him get behind the wheel, telling me he’d have us there in half the time, using the fact that he’d tossed his wine bottle out the window less than twenty minutes earlier to actually confirm how good a decision it would be, stressing that he’s a better drunk driver than I am a sober one (‘Fuck, Sean. Crank it up to 160. Let’s see what this baby can DO!’ as we passed the eighth speed trap in the past hour). I could only shake my head and call him a planet murderer every time he tossed another smoldering cigarette butt out the window.

We stopped for gas somewhere in Ohio at 7 in the morning, and with Ronnie and Sandra still crashed out in the back seat, Sully and I headed inside to pay for the fuel. When I got back into the car, Sully was nowhere to be found. Ten minutes later I was leaning on the horn, pissing off every single person gassing up their SUV on their way to work, wondering aloud just what the fuck Sully was doing. He eventually emerged from the gas station carrying a box. Inside the box? Nine bottles of wine. Nine fucking bottles of wine from a gas station in Ohio. It sounds like a bad Tom Waits track. Our road trip was exactly 7 hours old, and he’d already purchased 15 bottles of booze. ‘This is unbelievable’ he said, piling into the car. ‘These bottles are like, fifteen bucks back home. Look at this! $5.99 for a fucking Woodbridge Cabernet Sauvignon? I had to clean them out. Bought every bottle on the shelf.’ Again, there were simply no words.

By the time 8:30 rolled around, we were somewhere in the wilds of Kentucky and I was completely spent, gladly handing the reigns over to Ronnie who took us the remaining four hours without incident (Sully was sleeping like a baby by that point). We arrived in Antioch, TN at 11:30 am on Thursday, having completed the drive in just over 12 hours (we picked up an extra hour when we crossed into the central time zone). All things considered, we made pretty damn good time. We met Lisa, Blake, and The Money Shot at the local IHOP because we were bloody well ravenous, hammering back massive plates of chicken fried steak, piles of pancakes and big steak omelettes, and jugs of coffee. By the time we checked in to the Money Shot’s place, we were all ready for a sweet afternoon nap, but not before pounding back a celebratory beverage, as is the usual custom upon our arrival.

My sister is a singer songwriter in Nashville, and she lives with Ronnie’s college roommate; a legend in his own right affectionately nicknamed The Money Shot for semi-obvious reasons that don’t necessarily need to be delved into at this point in time; and his wonderful new bride, Steph. I’m not sure how accepting she’d be of the Mrs. Money Shot moniker, but we’re working on it. Steph’s friend Reggie also lives in the house, and I managed to inadvertently offend him with every second word I uttered, but that’s something that didn’t come until later. My sister’s boyfriend Blake was also down for the week, and he is an absolute legend who can bevy with the best of them. Oh yeah, and Steph’s parents, who I’d previously never met, were also down for a few days. Ken is a big fan of Tennessee’s finest export, so we were obviously getting along famously. Everyone woke up from their nap around 5, and we immediately started in with the bourbon, washing it down with countless silver bullets and Miller Lites as we paraded around in our respective Garry Valk jerseys and Canadian flags. The whole gathering had a kind of Griswalds-go-to-the-hockey-game kind of feel, and by all accounts was looking like the recipe for a drunken perfect storm.

A few of us piled into Lisa’s pimped out ’89 Toyota Corolla, a White Lightning Road-Rocket express with Blake at the helm, and with everyone else cramming into Pam and Ken’s SUV, we cruised the twenty-five minutes into downtown Nashville, eventually finding ourselves outside the Gaylord Entertainment Center (has to be the best name for a rink in the league). There were a tonne of Leaf fans representing, and it didn’t take long to get the ol’ “Go Leafs Go” chant going, due in large part to the mass quantities of alcohol already consumed. We eventually had a CBC cameraman film our drunken antics, which was pretty cool I guess, except that the game wasn’t even on CBC. We eventually made it to our seats, settling in just as it came time to belt out the Canadian anthem. And as everyone knows, nothing gets the patriotic blood boiling quite like that age-old combination of hockey and beer.

The differences between attending a game at the Gay Center and the ACC? First of all, we were sitting about fifteen rows up, in the corner, and our tickets were $43. In Toronto, those seats would have set you back at least $130 a pop. There are cheerleaders in the stands at the Gay Centre, and they have country music bands performing live between every period. And they play Tim McGraw’s I like it, I love it, I want some more of it! after every goal. But the biggest difference between catching a game at the Gay Centre and the ACC is that at the Gay Centre (how many times can a person write ‘Gay Centre’ in one paragraph?) on Thursday nights, you can buy a draft beer for $2. I almost had a tear in my eye when I ordered 4 large beers and got two bucks back from my ten. Of course, this deal only lasts until the end of the first intermission, but if you manage to stockpile 6 Bud Lights at the foot of your seat by the beginning of the second, you’re pretty well good to go for under twenty bucks.

As you might well imagine, most of the game was pretty well a blur. I remember that the Leaf’s two go-to snipers; the architect behind and Chad “The most skilled player on the Toronto Maple Leafs” Kilger; each managed to fill the net, and that Kris Newbury won a fight that directly led to his having his brain leak out on the ice two nights later. At some point, Sandra “accidentally” spilt most of her beer on me because the cheerleaders just happened to be walking through my field of vision at the exact moment she was watching me, and that as I was returning from about my fifth trip to the urinal, Steph and Reggie, walking behind me, called out ‘Go Preds’. Without even looking (or thinking, evidently), I shot back: ‘That’s Gay’... Did I mention that Reggie is a homosexual? Well, he is. As gay as a french horn. Nice enough guy, but not exactly forgiving of any minor foot-in-mouth slip-ups. Very sensitive. And very gay.

And its amazing because you never really realize just how ingrained the terms gay and fag and queer are in the modern lexicon, but sure enough, there I was massively offending Reggie at just about every turn… and I LOVE gay people. I mean, I have the utmost reverence and respect for anyone gutsy enough to be exactly who they are, regardless of what others think; especially in a place like the deep south; and here I was coming off sounding like Tim Hardaway after accidentally stumbling onto Church Street in late June and finding himself being soaked by a watergun-toting Dick Simmons. At one point, on Saturday afternoon, I asked Sandra if she wanted to go for a walk around the neighbourhood with me because if she didn’t, it would just be Blake and I and that would be totally gay. And of course poor Reg is sitting right there on the couch, and all he can do is dramatically throw his hands up in the air and huff in offended disgust as Blake goes running upstairs in utter mortification while I realize what I’ve done and walk outside to repeatedly ram my face into the curb. Of course I was to blame for being an idiot, but I never meant it in that way. It's just something you say without thinking about. Is this my way of apologizing? Maybe. But I guess some people are just more sensitive than others, as is evidenced by Reggie’s boyfriend Heath, who’d probably be the first one to call me a fag if he found out that Blake and I went for a walk together.

Anyway, the Leafs ended up losing 4-2 and Ronnie and I somehow got split up from everyone else and ended up at a bar across the street with about 30 other displaced Torontonians, and when the band on stage realized that we were a bunch of Canucks dressed in hoser gear, they immediately kicked into The Band’s The Weight, and before I knew what was happening, some guy from Newmarket was tugging on my G-Valk special, imploring me to get to the front of the stage because the house band was playing a “Canadian Folk Song”. Funny, I never thought of it that way, but sure enough, everyone in blue and white rushed the stage and sang along to “Take a load off Fanny”, nailing the harmonies and coming in at the appropriate staggered intervals the way you’re supposed to… It was all very touching. My quintessential Canadian moment for the weekend. We eventually got a call from The Money Shot to let us know that they were still at a bar inside the rink, so Ronnie and I ventured back into the Gay Center for a few pints and a photo-op with some guy in a suit who may or may not have been a member of the Preds squad (to be honest, I haven’t really watched hockey since the strike ruined the NHL for me and I found other, more important things to do with my free time… you know, like writing excessively long, impossible to read blog entries and watching the Raps). And Sandra and I somehow stopped fighting about her pouring her beer in my lap. Still not sure how that one got cleared up.

We eventually left the Gay Center and headed to Printer’s Alley, a famous alley full of raucous bars just north of the Nashville strip, and ended up at a place called Lonnie’s Western Room and Karaoke Bar. Enough said. We managed to score a VIP-like booth at the side of the stage, and then proceeded to annihilate the buckets of beer ($15 for a bucket of 7) which seemed to be arriving two at a time, every ten minutes. Lisa blew everyone away with a song who’s title has escaped me, Sandra brought the house down with You’re So Vain, and Sully managed to get over his chronic shyness by pulling off a commendable version of the above-mentioned Canadian folk song. There is a rumour that Ronnie and Sully did a drunken duet of Sinatra’s New York, New York later on, but I was long gone by then. Also, the ridiculous level of debauchery led to a first in the annals of McCallum barroom shenanigans. Many a lucky lady has had the fortune of being the meat inside the world renowned McCallum Sandwich (with Ronnie and I acting the part of the bread, of course); but this evening saw the first all-male McCallum Sandwich, with our good friend Reggie playing the part of both salami and cheese. What can I say? We’re an equal opportunity bunch of dick-heads.

At some point in the night, CBC’s own Elliotte Friedman stumbled into Lonnie’s and almost immediately joined us up in our section. Ronnie instantly went into business mode, dropping a card before you could say, ‘I’m Elliotte Friedman…The Score’. He filled us in on why all of the CBC cameras were at the game (they were filming a special on U.S. small market teams), and I managed to ask him if he was still friendly with a particular sports television personality. When he said that he hadn’t seen her in years, I said something to the effect of: ‘Yeah, I figured that. It’s funny though, because even though you probably don’t remember this, the last time I saw you out was at the Cloak and Dagger a few years back and you and the young lady seemed to be getting along mighty fine that night…’ His face went eighteen sheets of red and he conceded that yeah, that probably was the last time he’d seen her. What a legend. But I have to say, Friedman is a class act all the way, one of the most genuine guys you could ever meet, and he managed to put up with our drunken fawning for longer than most others would have before finally saying something about needing to find his camera man and B-lining it for the door. Good times all around.

I have no idea what time we left Lonnie’s, but it was evidently before Ronnie and Sully and Lisa and Blake did because there is video evidence currently circulating documenting perhaps the finest display of air-guitaring in the history of rock and roll as Ronnie rocks it with a spastic’s reeling perfection, windmilling it Pete Townshend style to Aerosmith’s Dream On in front of a group of horrified girls before ultimately ending the performance like Nirvana on SNL by knocking a metal beer sign off the ceiling with a climactic thrashing riff… It really has to be seen to be believed. I will do everything in my power to get a link up. (UPDATE: Video Evidence UNCOVERED!!!)

I ended up in the trunk of Pam and Ken’s SUV, along with Sandra, Steph and The Money Shot in the middle seat. We made the obligatory stop at Krystal Burger and picked up a sack of Krystal Chicks and a six pack of Krystal Burgers which I managed to inhale before we’d even gotten back to the house. I have no idea what happened after that, but I think that in the middle of one of Ronnie and Sully’s slap-fights, Ronnie proclaimed: ‘You’re a fuckin’ queer, Sullivan!’ Reggie was not impressed.

I had to get up at a ridiculously early hour the next day in order to meet a co-worker for lunch, car-pooling it over to O’Charley’s with Lisa and Blake so they could take the rental into Nashville to pick up Lisa’s ride that we’d left behind the night before. The only thing I can tell you about my 3 hour business lunch is that I was in a world of hurt for the duration, and made numerous visits to the facilities. Krystal Burger + 8 hours of $2 beers = not the most pleasant dining experience the following morning. When I got back to the Money Shot’s place, everybody was completely green from the night before and lounging around while watching The Devil Wears Prada, which meant that it was time for me to shut’er down for a few hours.

Friday night, Sandra, Pam and Ken prepared a massive feast for us, and after a few beverages we headed back into Nashville to see Lisa performing at a bar called The Commodore Lounge. By request, she did the ultra-awkward-to-listen-to-while-sitting-next-to-her-boyfriend, Late for Work, at Ronnie’s request, along with Chasing Whiskey and a new one that I’d never heard but totally dug. We sat around the Commodore (Vandy’s local haunt) for quite some time, listening to the singer-songwriters, all of whom are massively talented. The music scene in Nashville, as you might well-imagine, is a little bit like the actress scene in L.A., and it reminds me of that great scene in Swingers where Mikey’s talking to Peter from Office Space and he says that ‘the hottest one percent from around the world migrate to this gene pool…’ Well, Nashville kind of has the same thing going with singer-songwriters. It's like manifest destiny for musicians, which means if you wanna make it, you gotta go to Music City. It's gotta be a tough grind for anyone trying to make it, but it sure as hell makes for some serious listening in a sports bar on a Friday night.

We eventually ended up at a Rockabilly bar on Broadway called Robert’s, drinking $2 cans of Busch and Pabst Blue Ribbon. The band was pretty killer, and Ronnie was merrily flip-flopping between two ladies, one of which decided she didn’t much like the idea of sharing, deciding to pull a suck by text-messaging her ex-boyfriend for the rest of the night until eventually driving to his house while half in the bag. Major party foul. Pam, Ken, and Steph left the bar relatively early because Steph had to work in the morning, and because Pam and Ken, although totally up for givin’er hell, are still Grandparents when it comes right down to it, which meant that their going home at 12:30 wasn’t completely unacceptable. Sandra was on a mission to get totally obliterated and kept buying shots of tequila for whoever would do one with her. Blake and I were drinking some pretty fantastic Gentleman Jack, and I managed to pick up a couple of dudes who were in town for the septic tank convention. At about 1 in the morning, Sully announced to the entire bar that he was officially over the previous night’s hangover.

We eventually stumbled out the back door of Robert’s into the alley that runs behind Broadway, stopping for pics of Sully locked behind the gates of the Ryman Auditorium (featuring Buster Hyman and the Penetrators), where he happily posed with a homeless guy sleeping on the steps. Class acts, all around. As soon as we fell out of the alleyway, a Taxi Van serendipitously came to rest right where we stood. Our lucky day. All seven of us piled into the van, which we quickly realized was unlike any other cab we’d ever been in. There were Mardi Gras beads everywhere (which Sully began playing with immediately, pissing the driver off to no end – the driver ended up giving Sully a set of beads to keep him quiet, and they instantly became friends for life), and a disco ball hanging from the ceiling. As soon as the cabbie started driving, he hit “play” on his CD player, and the strip-joint MC’s voice belted out: “ARE YOU READY??!!!!??”, before kicking into Technotronic’s Pump Up The Jam, setting a strobe light into hyper-speed and almost causing Sandra to have a seizure. It was the wildest thing I’ve ever seen, and the seven of us were dancing like a bunch of epileptic kids on rohypnol. Again, there is video evidence, and I will do my best to get it linked. Halfway through Starship’s We Built This City, I yelled out ‘If this guy plays Ice Ice Baby I think I might bust a fuckin nut!!’. Sure enough, the next track kicked in and it was Shay playin’ on the fade, slicin’ like a ninja and cuttin’ like a razor blade. Greatest request fulfillment of all-time.

I vaguely remember the cabbie playing Kanye West’s Gold Digger, but by that point my brain was completely fried from the half-hour of strobe light abuse. Ronnie managed to uncover a case of beer buried in the back of the van, and even though it probably belonged to the cabbie, we commandeered a few just to pass ourselves. We got the dude to go through the Krystal Burger drive-thru for us so we could order $53 worth of Krystal Burgers (I was doing everything in my power to get the drive-thru girl to repeat the phrase “sack-full”, to no avail). While waiting for our 60 burgers to arrive, Sully got out of the Disco Party Cab (actual name) to give the cars behind us a striptease, and Sandra found herself a cozy little place on the curb to vomit for awhile. Fantastic.

By the time we got back to the casa-Money Shot, we were pounding back Krystals like Harold and Kumar at the 24-hour Cherry Hill Castle, and Sully had The Highwaymen’s Highwayman on perpetual repeat in the kitchen. Ronnie and Sully, right on cue, began playfighting like a couple of ADD-riddled kids in the schoolyard, oblivious to the fact that Pam and Ken were sleeping upstairs, and that Steph, who had to be up for work at 6am, was sleeping downstairs. When I eventually went to bed, The Shot knocked on my door and informed my that Sully and my brother were currently engaged in a fistfight on the front lawn. The only think I could say was that it was not my concern, and began snoring immediately.

The next day we woke up, hungover to all hell, and went out to fulfill one of Sandra’s lifelong dreams by posing for a picture in front of Dolly Parton’s house. After the obligatory photo-op, it was into Nashville to once again retrieve a car that we’d left in town the night before, and then onto a place called The Noshville New York Delicatessen for a pretty killer breakfast, although it was definitely lacking the biscuits and gravy, grits, and southern charm of a place like Dotson’s in Franklin. Our waitress was taking some extra special care of us and took an immediate liking to Sully, who, along with Ronnie, ended up sitting around and doing shots with her for most of the afternoon while I raided The Great Escape for some serious vinyl (Curits Mayfield and the Impressions, The Isley Brothers, Al Green, etc…), and then hit up Katy-K’s to shop like Jack White. On our way back to pick up Ronnie and Sully from the Deli, we re-enacted a childhood visit to Dorney Park by taking the tour of the Murrah Music Studio’s parking lot. Murrah Music is the publishing house that recently signed my sister, and the story of spending an entire afternoon looking at licence plates in the Dorney Park parking lot while listening to the laughter and excited screams of the other kids fortunate enough to be inside the park will be rectified with the help of years of therapy.

That night, everyone was completely green because we had been punishing our bodies for 72 consecutive hours, but not so green that we couldn’t hit up the local liquor store for some liquid provisions. Sully, already with 15 bottles of booze to his name, found a decent bottle of Lindemans that was to his liking, and decided to clean them out of stock, bringing his total to a staggering 24 bottles of booze. We were no longer at the ‘hey, it’s pretty funny how many bottles we’re bringing back’ stage; it was now a matter of illicit smuggling. Throw in the three pairs of cowboy boots that he’d bought earlier that day, and we were pretty well looking at a thousand dollars worth of taxes and fines, as well as a ten-year prison term. But he assured us that he’d take care of it, and we took his word for it because, hey, it’s Sully.

We did our best to drink our way through our insipid greenness, ordering some pretty solid BBQ from Bar-B-Cuties and hammering back as many Rolling Rocks as possible while watching in disbelief as Blake tore an entire phone book in half with his bare hands. Jocks rule. Sully lost $20 on the deal, and with nobody in any kind of condition to drive back into Nashville for a third consecutive night (a 25 minute jaunt at least), we ended up at a local joint where Sully managed to get himself cut off within the first ten minutes. We managed to slip him a few drinks without the staff really minding all that much, which, in retrospect, probably wasn’t such a great idea seeing how it directly contributed to Sully and Ronnie’s game of Golden Tee becoming a little heated, eventually resulting in a near barroom brawl that saw everyone being thrown out all at once and Blake coming within an inch of knocking the four remaining teeth out of the mouth of a mentally handicapped dude wearing a pair of overalls who happened to put his hands on the big man at the most inopportune moment. A fitting end to the evening.

The following day involved a drive that was only slightly less painful than an eternity in hell, but I managed to sleep all the way to Cincinnati, which made taking the reigns at the Ohio Tim Horton’s no problem whatsoever. I stayed behind the wheel all the way to within a mile of the border, at which point I handed the show over to Sully, figuring that if we were going to get busted for smuggling, I’d rather have him behind the wheel doing the lying. Of course, the customs guy didn’t even ask us for our IDs at the border, and we were through in less than 20 seconds. But what else would you expect with Sully? No matter how much trouble you think he’s gotten you into, he almost always seems to bail you out, inevitably leaving you with more stories than you know what to do with. It was impossible not to love him.

Gary and Steph, thanks so much for having us. Hopefully we weren’t an excessively intolerable burden (granted, we were an intolerable burden). You guys should try to get up to Toronto so maybe you can trash my place next time. It really is the least we could do. And Lis, thanks for showing us your newly adopted town. We couldn’t be more proud of all that you’ve accomplished. Until we see you,

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

From the Archives - Happy F'n New Year's

To help bring in the new era of the new and improved blog, I've decied to delve into the archives, a la Bill Simmons, to bring my faithful reader(s) a little something special, by request. This marks the first blog entry to include a guest writer, and it should be noted that this is being printed without any prior consent or knowledge of his. This correspondence took place more than six years ago, two days after New Year's Eve. Enjoy.

From: "Kevin O'Flaherty" <>
Subject: Re: Happy F*!#'n New Year's
Date: Tue, 02 Jan 2001 23:32:05 -0500

Mr. Pat McGroyn,

Without a doubt that was one of the funniest works these eyes have ever seen. my roomates rushed into my room to see what the fuck was so goddam hillarious. 2001 - what a way to bring it in, i can not believe the shit that went down that night. van zant and the goldfish is an all-time classic (i have been asking everyone around, how much $ it would take to do that deed, the answers have widely ranged). So dalwick lost $130 and got punched in the face to boot - happy new year! sketter and maria are the new millenium couple - when i was down last week, i was talking to maria at the oar house, and susie came over and told her that sketter had a crush on her - she didn't even blink, it was too funny. seany, i can not state enough what a great suprise it was to get that fuckin' letter, picturing big 'vo wiping out in the washroom to everyone smoking reef outside the bar it just sums up that we are all maturing into fine young adults.

let me set the scene for you for the clarkson golden knight's opening to '01. our original plan was to get into syracuse about eleven than to hurry home to the booming new year's party here in good ol' potsdam. when we got to the airport at 5:00 pm new year's eve, the pilots of all delta planes departing from florida decidied to sart their new year's boozing early and go on strike. they went on strike that fuckin' day. Rather hang out in sunny florida and fly straight to minnisota on the 4th, we decided to hang out at the airport in ft. meyer's fla. for a couple hours to wait for a bus and take a red-eye greyhound to atlanta on new year's eve. let's just say i remain a little bitter about the situation. we had a 55 seater and there was about forty-five people on the bus including the coaches, athletic director and all of their wives and famillies. rather than complain, 15 mins into the 11 hour trip i preceded to the tiny bathroom with a copy of swank magazine and snap a load off. that helped the bus ride go a little smoother. since this huge mishap had some of the boys a wee bit pissed off, the coaches decided to treat us to the outback. but when we arrived, we soon discovered that we weren't the only ones wanting to eat out that night and they didn't have a table of 45 ready. the restaurant next to the almighty steakhouse was named "the cracker barrell" and for some reason had plenty of room. we quickly learned that the reason there was many open tables was due to the fact that it was an unliscened establishment. they did have a gift shop and that is where i made one of the best investments of my life - a $3.99 harmonica. so we hopped back on the bus and brought in the new year two hours later. there was about six of us awake when we started the countdown at 11:59, but everyone seemed to let out at least a yawn or something when the big ball dropped. two freshmen, tristan lush - a wannabe lobster fisherman from massatchaus and rob mcfeeter's - a farmer from no joke woodville, ontario also thought the harmonica was a wise investment. for the complete elevn hours, there was at least one of us playing.

we finally did make it to atlanta where we had a six hour wait until our flight took off, if these georgia delta pilots did not go on strike. we did not stick out at all - 25 pasty white guys in the atlanta airport. it turned out to be one of the coldest nights of the year in atlanta so all of the homeless people in the surronding area decided to crash at the airport. i somehow found a vacant couch, slept for five hours and to my own amazement had all my belongings when i woke up. we than flew to montreal than bused two hours back to good ol' potsdam. let's just say the thought of you guys guzlling beer after beer and drink after drink ran through my mind a couple times.

down in fla there was a night to remember. the day after the tournament ended we had practice in the morning and from noon on the rest of the day to ourself. we preceded to get our beach gear, put our bar clothes in a knapsack and get the bus-driver to take us to fort meyer's beach which was about 15 mins away. he agreed to take us, but it was a one-way ticket and we were on our own to get back. upon arrival we headed straight to the beach which was awesome but the weather wasn't cooperating and while we were in our trunks the rest of the people were walking in thier turtlenecks and jackets. we than proceded to get some lunch and sit down for an hour at the local fish and chips joint. over that hour about fifteen of the boys decided to go back to the hotel and the other 10 of us stayed at the "the shark bite" that hour turned into being the biggest gong show ever. we ended up getting billed for 35 pitchers which was pretty generous because the waiter was a typical california surfer dude and hooking us up big time.

we than headed for the hot bar on the beach and we were hugely dissapointed because it was pretty dead - we did not realize it was 7:30. over the next couple of hour we proceced to drink beer after beer and deided that shots of crown royal would be a lot more fun. they were great until the seventh shot which sent me and everybody's favorite knight murray "cuntz" into the corner of the bar. cuntz decided to spit his shot out, which triggered something in my brain because a lot more than crown royal came out of my mouth. somehow i did get kicked out of the bar and i pulled off the legenday "puke and rally" we than headed down to the reef where there was some live music happenin' (too bad i didn't have my harmonica at this time) anyways the band on stage was a wannabe veruca salt and would have made rush look like the beatles.

there was about five of us there in this sit-down place and cuntz and i decided a condiment fight would be a great idea. i guess they don't get cbc because this wannabe "out of blue" commercial was not very well aprreciated. due to the fact my white golf shirt was covered with mustard and ketchup my excuse to the bouncer did not hold a lot a weight. that fine gentleman did let me finish my beer but our visit at the reef lasted about 9 or 10 minutes. we than headed back to the cool bar which name has slipped my mind which was pretty jumpin' at this point but for some reason i thought sucked and decided to walk back to my hotel.

i ended up waking up an hour later in the elevator of the quality inn, which wasn't too bad because i could just walk to my room. i proceded to room 222 but couldn't find it because when i looked at my key, it said welsey inn. when i went down to the lobbey, it turned out i had walked about 100 yards from the bar. i than looked across the street and saw kuntz, reid and carosa which was a huge relief. they had already ordered a cab and when it arrived carosa wanted to take some girls from none other than chatam, ontario back with us. reid thought this was rather a bad idea and was letting carosa know about it - the way a man who had been drinking for ten hours would. kuntz was sleeping in the cab at this point so it turned out to be the swing vote, for some odd reason i decided reid was right and carsoa informed me the following morning, as the girls were getting in the cab i remaked "if you aren't going to suck all our dicks, get the fuck out". i guess they weren't that impressed and deicided not to make the trip with us. ash would have been proud.

we made back to the hotel at about 1:50 which was pretty good, but curfew was at 1:30 which is pretty bad, usually not that big of a deal under normal circumstances. these were far from normal circumstances though because chris line another guy out that night was at the holiday inn pulling an oaf and going to the wrong hotel and a security guard had called the cops and were close to arresting him. chris decided to call coach morris which is the last person he should've called to come pick his ass up. it turned out about 12 guys were late so we have to do some coaching and community shit, but it was well worth it!! so we got home 7:00 last night (the 1st) and head to syracuse tomorrow and fly out to minnisota till sunday, where the weather has been been -20'F. sounds like fun. thanks for the letter bud, flats

p.s. if you wanna give me a roster of who all went to the stinky's bar, i'm assuming it was made up of many of last year's participants but if they were any newcomers to the line-up - i wiwh i was there!!

p.s.s does courtney have a boyfriend? Haha

From: "Sean McCallum" <>
Subject: Happy F*!#'n New Year's
Date: Tue, 02 Jan 2001 15:48:16 -0500


What a way to bring in the new millenium. I was just checking to see how you lads did in the tourney, and then I came across this minor anecdote whereby it states that your flight was cancelled, and that you guys had to ring in the new year on a bus, in the midst of an eleven hour ride into Georgia. That's brutal. But what can you do. I'm sure you guys had a blast down there, and probably made up for the lost night somewhere in the sunshine state. I also read that you are on a five game point streak - atta boy. I guess that once you stepped it up a notch and played with the big boys at Glen Abbey arena that Saturday night, the rest was simply academic.

As for our New Year's, as usual, it was a beauty. We ended up doing the same thing as last year, although for awhile it was all up in the air. You know how our unemployed and unmotivated friends are - I think that 90% of the tickets were bought either on the 30th or the 31st. But it finally came together, and by the time we got on the bus to go to the bar, I was already feeling a pretty nice glow (a few glasses of vino at the annual Foley birthday dinner, Jen Foley trying to get in my pants the entire time). The bus ride was a treat with beers a flowing and joints a smoking. When we got to the bar, most people were well on their way - including our bus driver (there were two busses), who decided to ring in the new year with us by staying at the bar, getting smashed, and hitting on every girl at a rate of failure that rivalled even my best outing. I made sure that I didn't get on his bus on the way home, although by the time we left, I would have let a puking, passed-out, birthday celebrating Mike Foley drive the bus. For the record, Foley puked like a champ, once over the railing out front of the bar, much to the delight of the throng of celebrating onlookers, and countless times behind the white Midas van next door. Classic.

Once inside the bar, most males headed directly for the bathroom, far too small for the amount of weed in which it would soon be engulfed. Within a matter of minutes, the owner of the restaurant upstairs came tearing into the bar, complaining that his restaurant had fallen victim to the same inexplicable cloud of green smoke that had rendered visibility in the men's washroom to become non-existent - So that was the end of the indoor hotbox, and as a result, people had to move to the front steps, which I thought would be worse, but nothing came of it. So the booze was flowing, and most people, myself at the top of the list, were double fisting double rye-and-gingers at a torrent pace, so much so that I found myself wondering if I had missed the count down. When I asked someone the time, they told me that it was 9:44...Ouch. Time to take 'er down a few notches. One of the highlights early on was Van Zant swallowing a live gold fish for $130 that Dawick had offerred to the first taker - it was an absolute classic, but essentially sealed ol' Dannny Boy's fate early on with regards to the ladies - somehow I don't think that they find digesting living animals as sexually stimulating as guys do. Much of the rest of the night is a blur, although I do vividly remember watching Skeeter get his groove on with Maria (Suzy's housemate/Skeeter's dream woman). Let me tell you, this episode of Skeeter just goes to show the value of persistence. I think that he went to kiss her about a half dozen times, each attempt ending in Maria's last second head fake, shake-and-bake, go the other way, thereby eluding the mighty moose. I remember watching from a distance with some girl who knows Maria (I think that it was either Magda or Mel, but to be honest I don't remember), and laughing our asses off at the effort being put forth. Finally, however, the good Catholic girl gave into temptation, and the rest, as they say, is history. I think that Skeeter is in love, and judging by the way she was all over him later on, I think that there could be little Uren footsteps pattering in the not-too-distant future. It was quite a sight.

Then all of a sudden it was midnight, and everyone was soaked in beer, and I remember kissing people (both male and female) that I have never spoken to - ahh, the beauty of New Year's. The rest of the time at the bar is a drunken haze, although I do remember walking into the washroom, the sight of next year's world figure skating championships, and seeing Big Vo doing a triple lutz that he, with the pin-pointed precision of a professional, landed on his right eyebrow, leaving a gash larger than those of most of the women I've slept with. Poor Vo didn't even know what hit him, and if it weren't for Kyle helping him up, he'd probably still be lying on that floor. Skeeter also took a spill, smashing his forehead against the Uren-al (bitter, bitter irony), leaving a nice mark.

I pounded back an entire bottle of champagne on the bus ride home, for which I am still paying the price. The bus dropped us off at Glen Abbey golf course where we had an army of carts warmed up and ready to, of course not. It dropped us off on my street, leaving little room for incident. About 15 people came over to my house, and you know what's coming next. We walked into the kitchen and were absolutely awestruck: 10 seventeen year old girls in their underwear and pajamas, dancing around my kitchen table to the Backstreet Boys - it truly was a thing of beauty. We hung around there for awhile, as you might imagine, before Laurie McKeen punched a belligerently drunken Derick Bendig in the face - Digger's response: "That would have hurt if it didn't come from a fuckin' whore" - Classic. Then Digger, ever the center of attention, attempted a triple sow-cow in my front hallway (dodging Rich Morgan who was passed out on the hardwood floor). Luckily for him, he broke his fall with a wine glass, severing a vein in his finger, and turning my bathroom into a scene out of a Quentin Tarrantino movie, flayling his hand around, spraying blood every where, saying "It's only a little blood - it never killed nobody. I just need a band aid". There's still blood on my walls. Eventually, I went to bed (it was around 5:30 by then), but not without one more highlight. Dan has been in love with one of my sister's friends (the one who wore the "Titty Hot Dog" jersey to your game) for quite some time, and decided that this night, the first of the new millenium, would be the night where he'd make his move. After much savvy persuasion, an entire year's supply of intellectually stimulating learned conversation, and countless tricks that the old veteran Dan had tucked up inside his sleeve for this one special occasion, the seventeen year old girl responded by saying "Well, I'm going to bed now", before giving him a noogie, and leaving the room. OUCH. Danny boy went to sleep alone, unsatisfied, underappreciated, but $130 richer.

All in all, it was a hell of a night, but we do wish that you and Ash could have been there. Keep burying those goals, thereby proudly representing the ASHL Cocks. Take 'er easy,

Pat McGroyn.

Frankie D vs. Teddy Duchamp


Originally Posted: 02/27/07

This is a tough one. I was just sent an article chronicling a day in the life of perhaps the most egotistical, self-aggrandizing, exploitative, clueless, classless individual this country has ever produced. I am talking about none other than the star of 'Being Frank' , and the man responsible for bringing us Steelback Beer (I have still, to this day, only met one individual who has ever purchased Frankie D's special brew - and that individual is the same person who sent me the aforementioned article), Frank D'Angelo.

So here's what I want you, my loyal readers (I think there are about six of you) to do. Read this article:

And then watch this clip:

And then I want you to tell me who you think comes off looking worse.

I've honestly been pondering this all day, and I can't figure it out. On the one hand, you have Frank D'Angelo being Frank D'Angelo. And I have to tell you, this was one of the saddest things I've ever read. Where I used to think of him as being infinitely arrogant and sickeningly full of himself, I actually feel sorry for the guy. He pays for his friends (the fact that he put up his house against a $100 million dollar loan to do so speaks volumes about how deeply troubled the guy is), he pays to sing in his band (more or less), and he doesn't seem to have any idea that most of these people find him repulsive.

When all of that money runs out and when Barry Sherman comes to his senses and pulls the plug on his funding, our man Frankie D will be out of business, out of his house, and utterly alone. And in reading this article, you can tell that he will be completely blindsided by the whole thing when it happens. And at this point, it's not a question of if; it truly is about when.

As much as I hate to say it, if you read on the ticker that the Apotex dude has ceased relations with the wannabe beer mogul, pick up Frankie in the D-level celebrity suicide pool, because that one is pretty well etched in stone. After writing this, I will probably find myself rooting for the man to succeed (an impossibility) just so this seemingly inevitable chain of events doesn't come to pass. But really. When a man actively chooses to put his beer in plastic bottles, knowing full well that the plastic bottles cost more and they can only be used once, there is a serious, serious chemical imbalance going on.

As for Corey Feldman. How could one of my childhood heroes have fallen to this level. I understand that this little E.C. cameo took place in 1993, but he was once Teddy F'ing Duchamp. Of Train Dodging and telling Milo the junkyard man that he'd-rip-off-his-head-and-shit-down-his-throat fame. This was, at one time, one of the five or six coolest kids on the planet. I mean, did you see 'License to Drive'? And now he's doing a half-taking-off-the-jacket shimmy shake like a schizophrenic Antoine Walker wearing white socks with black loafers, and I just plain don't know what to think.

I promise I'll write something a little more relevant next time. Maybe about how I (along with the rest of my late-20's hockey team) finally realized that I am not nearly as young as I used to be, and should probably stop deceiving myself into believing that I'm still 19... But most likely there will be an entry recounting a story involving 25 bottles of illegally smuggled booze, Elliotte Friedman in a Karaoke bar, and Technotronic blaring with disco ball and strobe light in Nashville's only Disco Party Taxi at four in the morning while waiting in the Krystal Burger drive-thru - all of which pretty well goes against everything the previous sentance just set out to prove.

Stay tuned...

Pour One Out for Bam Bam

Originally Posted: 02/03/07

What kind of a world do we live in where a wrestling Legend like the great Bam Bam Bigelow can die, and I manage to go almost two weeks before finally hearing about it? Honestly, this should have been a bigger story. How many guys have a tattoo of flames covering their entire head and a finishing move called Greetings from Asbury Park? The man will obviously be sorely missed.

So I was doing some research, trying to find an appropriate clip of Bam Bam going toe-to-toe with LT or the '93 Royal Rumble match with The Big Bossman, and I happened to come across this clip highlighting all of the wrestlers who have died recently. What the fuck? I had no idea that the JYD and Ravishing Rick Rude were dead. And Curt Henning? No seriously: what the fuck?!?!?

I guess the moral of the story is don't ever do steroids or let people repeatedly beat the shit out of you week after week on Maple Leaf Wrestling, and don't ever let your babies grow up to be WWF Superstars. Earthquake, Yokozuna, Miss Elizabeth: all of them, gone. This is a somber day for me. I feel a little bit like I did the night I decided to test the whole toothfairy thing by not telling my parents that I was putting my tooth under my pillow, only to wake up and discover that I was short a quarter and a fulfillingly decieved normal childhood. It didn't exactly take much of an abstract intellectual leap to have Christmas ruined in the same fell swoop.

If anyone needs me, I'll be playing with my King Kong Bundy action figure and listening to the WWF Wrestling Album.

Billy Big Shot

Originally Posted: 01/31/07

Here is a classy photo of Mike Foley as "The Man", taken from Monday's edition of The Financial Post

To learn more about the fascinating world of big time Investment Banking, click on the link.

Nice work Bill.

The Final 30 Seconds of the AHL All-Star Game

Originally Posted: 01/31/07

Really, it takes a certain kind of deception for the media to refer to the AHL All-Star game as a classic. Not only am I incapable of recalling a single highlight or final score from any of the preceding so-called classics, but I actually had this game confused with the CHL all-star game, and was expecting to see hitting and fighting and Don Cherry and Bobby Orr exchanging a C-note at centre ice. But as we quickly discovered, this was decidedly not that game.

We managed to score some free tickets for the game from our fellow Natti Light Football Poolie, Nolan Baumgartner (the intricacies of the NLFL are an entirely separate entry), who happened to be starting on the blue line for the Canadian side, and who was gracious enough to hook us up despite the fact that our relationship is essentially based on corresponding entirely via email, and even then only to relay juvenile insults regarding fantasy football transactions and the propensity of his obscenity-slinging wife to carve him to pieces at every opportunity.

Ronnie, Damen and I wandered into the Ricoh just as the pregame ceremonies were getting under way, and after the moment of silence in memory of the Gumper, we were treated to two of the worst renditions of the national anthems that I'd ever heard. This poor girl is destined for a future of over-singing Hoobastank ballads as she hosts a mid-week Karaoke night in a Junction neighbourhood bar. She made the likes of Carl Lewis and Borat seem like perfectly viable options as wedding singers.

When the game eventually got underway, things improved only slightly. There was no hitting, nothing resembling a backcheck (Planet
USA had a 5-on-1 at one point, which they failed to convert on), and in this era of ten powerplays per game, the refs put their whistles away and didn't make a single call. The result? Although noticeably better than the NHL debacle of last week (whenever the Raps game went to a commercial last Wednesday, I actually found myself switching to American Idol instead of the best players in the NHL - I wish I could say I was making that up), could and should have been a better game. But then you realize that these guys have already been drafted and signed to decent contracts, so there's no real incentive for them to play hard. Which is precisely why they should wager on the game.

And I know that it will probably never happen, but if the average AHL salary is somewhere in the neighbourhood of $60,000 a year, you'd have to assume that the guys playing in the all-star game are making considerably more than that. And when you factor in that 92% of the guys in the AHL classic will go on to play in the NHL (as all of the promos were constantly reminding us in their futile attempts to build interest), then I don't think it would be out of the question for each player to put up five-grand, just to make things interesting. And a building interest would be the exact result.

Just imagine if there was a $10,000 swing riding for every guy out on the ice? You don't think you'd see guys busting their ass to get back? You don't think you'd see guys crashing the net and actually acting like they gave a fuck about the outcome? Everything about the game would be better, from the style and intensity of play to the interest and emotional investment of the crowd. And sure, people will complain about the moral issues of players gambling on a game in which they're participating, but that's the thing I've never understood about the argument to keep Pete Rose out of the hall of fame: what the hell is so bad about betting on your own team to win? Isn't that what sports is all about? Having the balls to put it all on the line in competition? I understand if you bet against your team, yeah, castrate the guy and have him pay back every fan who ever bought a ticket to watch him play. But a guy who has the stones to bet on his own team? A guy who believes in his teammates and wants to win so bad that he'll put money on it? That's a guy I want on my team, and that's a guy I'm gonna pay money to see.
And to be honest, in the end, that five-grand per guy in the AHL All-Star game isn't going to make any kind of a difference because chances are they're all gonna get together afterwards to spend it on buying lap dances for one another at The Brass Rail anyway, but the fact that they'd have something on the line; and the fact that the fans would know about it; would make the game infinitely better.

But as it was last night, nobody in the Ricoh centre could have cared about what was happening on the ice until the mascots either started throwing T-shirts into the crowd (the only time the 7,000+ stood and/or cheered), or the mascots strapped on the skates and went at one another between periods. And really, if the mascots are stealing the show at your signature event, it might be time to rethink the entire production.

So because of the complete and utter lack of any semblance of atmosphere inside the rink, Ronnie, Damen and I were forced to create our own atmosphere, which essentially consisted of hammering back Delgados (the nickname given to overpriced, stadium sided, extra large beers in Toronto), discussing all things Natti Light (particularly how we are less than a week away from the Superbowl and still have yet to receive our week-15, quarter final results - don't ever let the commissioner of your Fantasy Football League get called up to the NHL in the mid-December), the reason Skeeter would have ever moved back to Oakville (not a city guy, wanted to be closer to Ash and Jacquie's softball team, homosexuality), and the ethics and intricacies of grill-glazing (Ronnie's physical re-enactment of Dinner's Friday night exploits in front of the family of five and the two Octogenarians sitting behind us didn't exactly go over as well as we hoped). All in all, it was an enjoyable way to spend a couple of hours.

It wasn't until there was about a minute left in the game, with the score tied 6-6, that the players on the ice began to take noticeable interest. And then a funny thing happened. Because as the players began taking interest, the game actually picked up speed and intensity. And then almost instantly, the fans began paying attention, and the vibe in the Ricoh improved exponentially. And when The Baumer picked up the puck behind his own net with 27 seconds left, the entire AHL community surged with the palpable feeling that something special was about to happen.

I'm not sure if that something special was Ronnie standing and yelling above a shocked and horrified and predominently family-oriented crowd: "BAUMER! YOUR WIFE'S A WHORE!!!"; but it was something along those lines.

In any event, our boy took the puck from behind his own net, and with Ronnie's derogatory abuse echoing amongst the rafters, began an end-to-end rush that would surely make every sportscenter highlight reel and have him back up with the big club before you could say "Salary Cap? Hell, I'd play under a salaray cap!". But something happened on the Iafrate-like rush, and somehow Planet USA ended up bringing the puck back down to the Canadian end, and as the Baumer made a last ditch effort to break up the play, the Planet USA AHL All-Stars buried the game winner with 3 seconds left on the board, leaving a fleetingly riled-up crowd utterly dissapointed and completely unsatisfied (somewhere, the girl I lost my virginity to was having an inexplicable case of deja vu), and a devestated Nolan Baumgartner splayed across the ice for a fantastically memorable length of time.

The entire sequence was one of the most thrilling, hilarious, and perfectly scripted chains of events I'd ever been a part of, and it made the entire ordeal - the pitch-defying rendtions of the anthems, the morgue-like atmosphere in the rink, the fact that the kids sitting in Section 112 will probably need decades of psychiatric treatment after picking up fragments of the endless barage of colloquial debauchery coming out of Row M - worth every last minute.

I have no idea where the 2008 AHL All-Star Classic will be taking place, but rest assured, if The Commish can one-up his fellow Natti Light blue-liner, regardless of whether or not they have five-large riding, the NLFL faithful will represent, even if doing so means
Portland in January.