I got happier as the recording went on. I guess I just felt a need to get a grin on.
When Canadian broadcasters had to try to explain hockey to American audiences in the mid-70s, Brain McFarlane, former CBC sportscaster, conceptualized Peter Puck to introduce the basics of the game.
Iconic - yes.
Cool for kids - yes.
Insulting to Canadians who already knew the game - probably.
As insulting as the glowing FOX puck in the 90s - not even close.
Go retro and dig Peter Puck - a great part of my childhood.
The video embedded above is a very cool 27 minute film documenting the first ever game for the newly-baptized Quebec Nordiques in 1972. It is one of a 12 part series produced by the NFB called "Adieu Alouette" and the theme song at the beginning is priceless.
Even if you're not a hockey fan, PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE watch the first 90 seconds for the cheesiest, grooviest, theme song about cultural identity I've ever seen - all in glorious period animation. You won't regret it.
Thank you once again nfb.ca!
A great time capsule look at the Canadian view of hockey in 1953. Not much has changed. NHL training camps are opening. My hometown of Hamilton is getting screwed over for a team once again.
That aside, this short film gives insight on ice makers, junior hockey, equipment costs, and minor hockey teams featuring the legendary Jean Beliveau's transition from the Quebec Aces to the Montreal Canadiens. Some great early slo-mo sports coverage that's over 55 years old. Incredible video quality as well!
"Professional hockey's a more than 7 million dollar a year business!"
This Leslie McFarlane film is presented courtesy of nfb.ca - the National Film Board of Canada.
My Canada Day podcast of lists, concerning my love for my country and my summer bucket list... things to do before summer dies!
- The flag kicks serious ass. You know how the most effective logos and branding can be done with two simple contrasting colours, well the Canadian flag is it. For those of you who don't know the left and right red fields on the flag represent the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans while the eleven point Maple Leaf has one point for each of the ten provinces and the remaining for the northern territories. As cool as it is, it still comes a close second to the awesomeness that was the logo of the NHL's Hartford Whalers.
- Hockey. Okay all you haters, I know you may find the game boring or hard to follow, but in as much as 80% of the world mythologizes soccer and 19 of the remaining 20% worships football, baseball and basketball... or even Nascar, in Canada we bleed hockey. I love to watch it, but if I can't watch it, I'm just happy to know it's being played. It's part of the national identity and if you don't get, we don't care.
- We don't care. Yeah sure, we care about some things, but for the most part we're a laid back people. Foreigners often call us polite, but really we're just making fun of you behind your backs so we don't hurt your feelings... I suppose that's more tactful than polite. Let's call it diplomatic because it's not smart to piss people off when we don't have disproportionally huge armed forces.
- We don't have disproportionately huge armed forces. I've never been a "fan" of any army... especially not a fan in a way that would entail putting on a replica jersey and getting in the game, but I respect that the prime role of the Canadian soldiers have generally been peacekeepers in recent years and that those in the service generally get thrown into a shitstorm without proper backup, funding, and respect. While we have a proud military tradition in this country, our government really needs to reconsider risking young lives just to satisfy global expectations.
- Global expectations aren't too high. Sure you may think that's a bad thing, but it allows us to self-pace and largely concern ourselves with internal matters, like the national hockey and curling programs, exporting stand-up comedians, making Hinterland nature shorts, and advancing the latest R&D techniques to develop the most cost effective coffee and donut combo in world.
- The best coffee/donut combo in the world. Tim Horton's and it's competitors serve the most cost-effective, value for money, coffee and donut combos in the world. Most of this is due to the fact that the small coffee is small and the large coffee is large and even though Southern Ontario has the largest Italian population outside of Italy we still haven't allowed the elitist Starbucks to overrun our homegrown donut houses with crazy sizes like Grande and Venti. What's up Starbucks, do you think you're in a Puccini opera or something?
- Multiculturalism. You can have your melting pot for your chicken soup/nacho cheese/fondue gruel. I'll take them on separate plates and bowls forming a great mosaic across the dinner table that spans from Newfoundland to British Columbia, with lobster from the Maritimes, poutine from Quebec, maple syrup from Ontario, bread from the prarie wheat fields, beef from Alberta and smoked salmon from BC. Sure, it sounds like a crazy mix, but at least I can pick and choose instead of melting it up.
- Crazy mixes. This one deserves its very own reason. I quote from the source of all things - Wikipedia: "A Bloody Caesar, after the similar Bloody Mary, is a cocktail popular mainly in Canada. It typically contains vodka, clamato (a blend of tomato juice and clam broth), Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco sauce, and is served on the rocks in a large,celery salt-rimmed glass, and typically garnished with a stalk of celery and wedge of lime." I did warn you.
- We warn people when we're coming. Why do you think we wear the Canadian flag on everything we wear while travelling? We want you to know our laid-backedness is on its way to charming your country's existence. Sure we may wear tuques and flop on your chesterfield for a bit and drop in "eh" a whole bunch of times for your amusement, but that's just so you'll feel at ease with us and give us your beer while watching Meatballs and Strange Brew.
- Strange Brews. We'll drink you under the table. Set up a mickey, a twenty-sixer, a forty pounder, and a palette of two-fours and we're ready to go to town... well, take a cab to town anyway. After all, no use hitting a poor defenseless moose while drinking and driving.
- Driving. Although getting around Southern Ontario can be agonizing at times, driving across Canada is awesome and I would do every year if I could. From Pacific to rivers to Rockies to foothills to prairies to forests to Great Lakes to plateaus to bays to Atlantic and up to the Great White North, you will never see greater diversity or meet nicer people.
- People. In 2004, the people of Canda voted Tommy Douglas as the Greatest Canadian ever. You may ask who Tommy Douglas was. He "was a Scottish-born Baptist minister who became a prominent Canadian social democratic politician. As leader of the Saskatchewan Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (CCF) from 1942 and the seventh Premier of Saskatchewan from 1944 to 1961, he led the first socialist government in North America and..." still waiting for the greatest part? He introduced universal public healthcare to Canada.
Happy Canada Day to all Canadians, wherever you are!
A frank discourse on the idiocy of Gary Bettman, the short-sightedness of the NHL, and why hockey needs to come home to Hamilton, Ontario... okay, you may not care about hockey, or Hamilton, or even know or care about who Gary Bettman is, but if you want to hear me trash talk the Wizard of Idiot for a few minutes, take a listen.
Also, if you're one of those "tech news" people, Jim Balsillie's involved, and, for those of you who don't know who he is, he is the CEO of a little outfit called Research in Motion who sell a gadget called Blackberry... not that we'll be talking about app stores or anything, but if the tech geek thing floats your boat, there you go.
Check out makeitseven.ca for updates on the saga.
Concerning the death of originality in the summer blockbuster movie season, snippets of a life lived in and around hockey and...by special request...a special reading of a letter from Linus Torvalds explaining the penguin as the Linux logo as read by... Morgan Freeman!
Never let it be said that the iPod touch cannot be used for a long form blog post. I said in a recent podcast that I never thought I'd be podcasting about hockey, but I'm Canadian, and after some 70 or so podcasts and a couple hundred blog entries, I think I'm entitled come playoff season. As I sit in a Montana's in Mississauga (restaurant chain for the uninitiated) I am watching the NHL playoffs on multiple TVs and recalling a few memorable times that hockey has influenced my life.
The only time I ever felt like a sports hero was at age seven when I scored an overtime goal on a breakaway and, for the first time in my life, intentionally lifted the puck off the ice for the winner. And while I enjoyed many other moments playing hockey, that moment ranked right up there.
A couple of decades later I had bit more of a surreal hockey moment when I spent the one semester if my post-secondary life in a university residence during Teachers' College. Sitting in our floor's TV lounge/common area, a group of us foul- mouthed Canadians in a US Teacher Ed. program (all guys in the room at the time mind you - and at a university that still bore the vestiges of a Franciscan monestary... save your Catholic jokes for later) learned that Mario Lemieux had been stricken with cancer in the prime of his career. In the five months I spent in that dorm, I never heard the place so quiet... eerily so. You wouldn't think that a collection of some of the most misogynist mouths I'd ever heard could be stunned into silence at the news of a hockey player's illness. No one spoke for several minutes, or at least until the next gratuitous sex-filled beer commercial anyway.
The last hockey memory comes in the form of a trip to Las Vegas. The moment itself was hardly earth-shattering, but did suffice in conveying a vast gulf between two culture. On the one occasion I've been to Vegas in October, I happened to be sitting in the MGM Sportsbook in front of a sea of television screens (a place I often refer to as Valhalla). That night was a major playoff game between the Red Sox and the Yankees and the room was full of fans in official MLB attire hootin' and hollerin' as their teams played what I'm sure was an amazing. My friend and I, however, sat at the far end of the room watching two small screen that were playing NHL games. It was the opening night of the regular season. The games were insignificant. I think Minnesota and the Ducks may have been involved. And we were in our glory.
There was a popular beer campaign a few years back that rifled off a dozen reasons to claim "I AM Canadian". And while I would never claim that Canadians have a sole claim on the game that I was raised with, I never watched one of those commercials without thinking, how many people could explain the following: Peter Puck, putting the biscuit in the basket, straddling the blue line, going roof, Savardian Spinnerama, neutral zone trap, or why 92 goals or 215 points in a season are feats of biblical proportions.