Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Sept. 15 is MY lockout, but what am I waiting for? Part 4

So, ultimately, this is a pretty cut-and-dry response.

Sports used to be wildly fascinating and engaging subject, particularly the Maple Leafs and the NHL. However, lately, (and you could argue for almost 10 years) it's been unrewarding.

The logical conclusion is to stop bothering with it. It's not fun anymore. And honestly, I don't know why I'm letting the Sept. 15 deadline for the NHL lockout set a "milestone" for me to call it quits.

There's no reason to believe that what I'm looking for can be found in any sport out there - I may as well just cut them all out. 

It's going to be a really different world for me without sports, though. Half my Twitter feed is sports reporters or athletes. Two thirds of my radio presets are for sports stations. Readers of Spring Chickens will know that a majority of my blog posts throughout the year are focused on the Leafs.

But, I'd rather be frustrated in pursuit of finding something new and exciting to be passionate about than being frustrated with something I know can't give me what I'm looking for.

So - there's a very tenuous thread that I'm holding out hope for. The league doesn't go on strike, the players come back, and I get caught back up in the same old narrative about the Leafs fledgling hopes, ... or it's a genuinely new world for me.

It'll be an interesting day on Sept. 15 - when I purge all my connections with the sports world ....... stay tuned.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Can other sports fill the void? Part 3

The Leafs have been a disaster for years, and I hadn't realized until the looming NHL lockout at how radioactive that's become for me. They've poisoned my interest in the whole league - I'm not financially investing in seven new sports channels to watch different hockey teams, but could I find what I'm looking for in terms of engagement and fascination with other leagues?

New story lines, rules, plays, highlights, athletes and  history could be really interesting to jump into.

I've had to broaden my horizons (a little) over the summer, what with no hockey, of course, but also with the Olympics. There's been a LOT more soccer going on (that stupid Euro-Cup was overwhelming in the media - plus god-awful). But there's also the other main leagues, with basketball, baseball, cycling, football, and the ubiquitous presence of golf and tennis. 

I can't stand tennis.

Never played, don't know anything about the players, and I don't want to watch it.

Golf is surprisingly good TV. It's more fascinating and fast-paced than watching any other sport, I'll argue. They're ALWAYS flipping to a new highlight as one of dozens of players on the course at any given time are making a difficult shot - and they're interesting to watch! They're constantly cutting away to another amazing feat of accuracy, chance and excellence.

Baseball can't do that. Hockey can't do that. Football and basketball need play clocks or else the players would never get moving.

Doesn't mean I like watching golf, just means there's an argument to be made for it being better television than the rest.

So, what are the big sports stories out there? 

Sports officials making bad calls, steroid use, mouthy managers/players, what rules could be improved, and contract negotiations. Athletes getting arrested, dying, and "big trades."

Some of these are frustratingly awful to listen to, watch and read. 

Another bad narrative is the "hope for the future," narrative, which says fans can have hope that some minor-league prospects will be exciting in the future, bringing a championship back to the franchise.

Ultimately, I want to get caught up in an interesting world where the characters and the stories are rich and interesting and where the feats of excellence keep me wondering "what's going to happen next."

Sports has s failed to do so lately, and it's been a terrific source of frustration for me.

And if you've read through all this, then you're likely wondering - why bother anymore? 

Then you can understand why I've titled my last post:
Part 4: Sept. 15 is MY lockout, but what am I waiting for?

Monday, August 27, 2012

Is being good at sports an "inspirational story"? Part 2

Being good at sports is fun. It can be cool to watch people being good at sports. BUT - is it an "inspirational story"?

Coming out of the Olympics really demonstrated something to me, and it's the standard, predictable narrative for people who are good at sports, and if they fit it, they're heroes in the media.

The narrative is this:
A dedicated athlete has something bad happen to them, hurting their body or feelings, but they're still good at sports anyhow.

If you haven't faced "something bad" then you don't have a good story. Inspirational stories seem to rely on some idea that people all over the world are quitting all the time because of bad things. Bad things happen and they quit being what they are or what they do.

BUT not to athletes. Bad things happen to them, but they are still athletes.

This is not to take away from the genuine "badness" of the things that happen to them. Bad things are bad - and it's unpleasant and unfortunate for everyone involved - but the idea one can only resume doing the thing they're doing (sports) because they're individually great in character, is a bit flawed.

I have a LOT more respect for people who overcome poverty than people who overcome injuries or illness.

If you're an athlete and someone in your life isn't dead or dying, then you've had it easy, man! Be prepared for a long anonymous life in the majors!

I just can't understand why someone has to be sick or dying for someone else to have a "good story."

I guess that's just a rant on the predictability of the sports star narrative - but let's face it, celebrating sports is about as flaky as things get. Enjoying sports is one thing - but dredging the lives of athletes to uncover their
"TSN Turning Point" is getting disgusting.

There are many different narratives, but this one comes up all the time and it's so predictable (right down to the same music in the background, striking the minor notes to tug at your heart strings at just the right moment) that it's becoming a distraction.

But are there fresh new sports narratives that could replace the inane repetition we're hearing all the time? Could I just follow along with another professional league and rekindle my interest?

Part 3: Can other sports fill the void? Part 3

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Lockout the last straw? Part 1

Since the last NHL lockout, the only sports franchise I've really ever followed with much vigor (and it's been a lot of vigor) has been the Toronto Maple Leafs. The 2004 lockout didn't really have a big impact on me, because I was away in college, too busy with other things to watch the games, anyhow.

After the games returned, I was pretty busy studying for finals, and it was something of a relief that the Leafs weren't in the playoffs, because it would have been tremendously distracting - as you can imagine.

And, apparently, the last labour agreement was the worst thing to ever happen to the Toronto Maple Leafs. They've been absolutely unable to operate under its rules and regulations, and they've failed miserably.

That being said, I have been somewhat hopeful under the new terms in the upcoming agreement that they might be able to get that back on track but .... who am I kidding?

Sports is supposed to be an escapist reality full of drama and inspirational stories. They're modern-day war stories, where you watch these athletes "battle" and achieve victory, and ... basically, you can get caught up in what they're doing, probably forgetting the rest of your life during that time.

It gives you plenty to ponder, imagine and hope for. It's a story that unfolds in real-time and activates your imagination - but in all practicality, it's been a lesson in managing disappointment.

And therein lies the greatest flaw in following sports at all - unless you "win," what do you really get? You could say: Inspirational Stories. The flaw here is that too many stories are heavily focused on trying to rewrite being good at sports as "inspirational."

I've been thinking a lot about some of my dismays in giving two shits about sports, and I hope to explore those in the next few blog posts.

Part 2: Is being good at sports an "inspirational story"?
Part 3: Can other sports fill the void? Part 3
Part 4: Sept. 15 is MY lockout, but what am I waiting for?

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The popular, yet little-known chapter of Paul Ryan's life

Before pulling himself up by his bootstraps, Paul Ryan was a blond slacker in high school, named William S. Preston, or "Bill" for short. He was facing a failing grade on his history assignment, while struggling to make it in a band, the Wyld Stallyns (which sounded an awful lot like KISS back in 1991).

At the risk of failing their history class, the future of humanity was threatened by Ryan's best buddy Ted's father, who was fully willing to ship Ted to military camp and cease their efforts to forging the music that would unite the world in harmony.

George Carlin intervened, helping them travel through time to recruit historical figures and find out what they think of San Dimas, California, while practicing homophobic slurs in medieval times.

Be excellent to each other. (Then busts out his "air guitar" finger licks)

Carlin was successful, and prevented any deviation from the timeline that allowed the Wyld Stallyns to
become the single-most influential music in the history of mankind.

"Bill" a.k.a. Ryan Paul, named his guitar "Les Paul."
However, somewhere along the way, the timeline was diverted after all, and "Bill" became "Paul," and the world never got to listen to the Wyld Stallyns.

How did this happen?
Without a functioning, time-travelling phone booth, it's hard to pinpoint exactly when the Wyld Stallyns went off course - but today, instead of heavy metal bringing us world peace, we have Justin Bieber offering Prince William a reliable hair restoration solutions.

Regrettably, Carlin passed away in 2008, likely preventing him from returning for a third time, to carry the world into his preferred utopia.
Cheer up, there are other ways to influence the world than heavy metal.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Long weekend garden

Did some garden renovations this long weekend, and it's made the front of the yard look a bit better.

I'm looking forward to having a herb garden at hand, and some scotch bonnets, which will be great!

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Port Perry walk this morning

Out for a quick walk to calm Sullivan down this morning - great sunrise.

 Moon was still out, too.

Port Perry became Hemlock Grove

This is about a month old, but I have a bunch of neat pics from when the Hemlock Grove crew came to town and transformed Port Perry's Queen St.

Stars of the show 
While Famke Janssen and Lili Taylor weren't around (as far as I could see), we spotted a few of the stars, including Bill Skarsgard.

And we were always happy to watch Terra Nova while it was on. Instead of being busy filming any new episodes of that, Landon Liboiron was filming for Hemlock Grove.

I'm not really sure who this is. I'm only guess it could be "Penelope Mitchell";

Downtown was transformed, and the familiar locations were refaced, including our local CIBC;

 The Home Hardware was transformed into Easter Valley hardware.

The Hardware Feed is really Port Perry's Car Quest Auto Parts;

 Downtown's Post Office of course had to be fixed to look like a US Post Office;

 The ReMax office was turned into a simple realtor.

Palmer Park was fixed up to fit the town's new nom de plume.

  The buildings were fixed up, too. This was really well done - looked genuine.

Local celebrities 
A local celebrity survived the casting couch and will be in the show, as far as we can tell. The White Feather Farms and Country Store's chicken truck took a trip down main street during filming. 

Production crew
Here are a few random shots of the set and production crew.


Sullivan on set - his first taste of show biz.