Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Where Were You On December 8th, 1980?

I might very well have been watching this Monday Night Football telecast with Howard Cosell when John Lennon was shot and killed 30 years ago today. Many people have memories of where they were or what they were doing when famous people die, Lady Di, Elvis, Michael Jackson, Kurt Cobain and of course, John Lennon. Many of these deaths were tragic, but all of their deaths had a powerful effect on people's lives.

John Lennon was shot at 10:50 pm on December 8, 1980 outside his apartment by Mark David Chapman. Earlier in the evening Lennon signed a copy of Double Fantasy for Chapman. Chapman remains to this day in jail. John's memory has been kept alive by his music through his solo work and his time with a band called, The Beatles. John's memory is also kept alive by his message of peace, anti-war and civil rights for all and the irony of his death states that message loud and clear.

Imagine there's no Heaven
It's easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people
Living for today

Imagine there's no countries
It isn't hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace

You may say that I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will be as one

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world

You may say that I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will live as one

Monday, November 29, 2010

Crushes & Carnage- Roller Derby Is Back!!

My first exposure to roller derby was back in the late 70's when professional roller derby was on television and it's theatrics and antics mirrored the entertainment level of professional wrestling. Two teams battled it out on a raised, banked track surrounded by metal guard rails that concentrated more on the violence and wildly colourful characters than the sport itself. This was sports entertainment at it's lowest, staged fights and exaggerated battles, but it should be remembered that these players were in fact skilled athletes that were participating in a sport. Then one day roller derby seemed to fizzle out and disappear while professional wrestling became even more popular, maybe roller derby was too dangerous and there were too many real injuries. Roller derby enjoyed a bit of a revival on the early 90's with made-for TV "games" such as Rollergames and Rollerjam, but that too burned out.

Fast forward to November 13, 2010 when I attended my first live Roller derby match at the Convention Centre, appropriately named; Crushes & Carnage. The game is enjoying another revival, but this time it's different. The leagues and teams are more of a grassroots DIY operation focusing more on the the sport and athleticism and the sport is dominated by woman's teams. The Winnipeg Roller Derby League consists of 3 home teams, The Backseat Betties, Valkyrie's Wrath and the Corporation, as well as a travel team, The Murder City Maidens (that represents the WRDL) that competes against out of town teams.

Here are some other tidbits/antidotes I picked up watching "Crushes & Carnage":
  • Despite the perception of roller derby as a sport with "no rules", actually there are a lot. You can body-check or use your body to block opponents, but much like hockey you can't trip, push, pull, elbow or punch. Depending on the severity of the infraction, a skater can earn a minor or major penalty. The team will skate one player short until the time is served.
  • While the 70's roller derby could have been labeled wrestlers on skates, the game now is punk-rock girls on blades. Lots of cute girls with tattoos, piercings, short skirts and ripped stockings, and the sport still maintains that "cheesy" factor that makes it so great to watch.
  • As you can see from my video, the track is flat, not a banked raised track. I would guess it would be extra dangerous flying over the rail both for the participants and the spectators. As it is, the fans on the floor have to watch out for sliding and falling girls from the track.
  • For an animated video of how the game is played, check out this instructional video on YouTube: The Basics of flat track roller derby.
  • Just for fun, here's clip from a televised 70's roller derby match. A fine example of how crazy that "sport" was. There must be a TV station or a DVD of classic matches from the 70's, oh well, YouTube will have to do.
Crushes and Carnage was a lot of fun and I'll definitely have to go to the next roller derby event. Admittedly, I might not have even heard about this if it wasn't for my friend (and my hair stylist!), Mini Morbid who is on one of the teams, The Backseat Betties. M.M. was awesome and you really see a different side of someone when they are competing on a sports team. Knowing someone involved helps, but it's still an entertaining evening of great sports action and the price is right. It's less than a Moose ticket and at least half the price of a Bomber game...and yes, there's beer!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

In Case You Missed It...

...The annual IF...Improv Festival was held at the Gas Station Theatre with performers from Los Angeles, New york, Toronto, Edmonton, Regina and of course, Winnipeg. This year on November 11, a return of the Dungeons and Dragons improv show that performed it's hit show at this year's Winnipeg Fringe Festival. This was a one-off, 2 hour show that featured a return of old favourite and new characters performed by the same cast as the summer run. Even though I was never a "gamer" or really have a grasp of the whole D'n'D thing, this improv show is always entertaining and of course, unpredictable! This excellent cast works well together with everyone contributing equally without a lead star of the show, which ultimately contributes to the success of the appeal and longevity of the series. The summer's shows worked like a serial, where the mini-episodes continued from show to show leading to a larger and more in depth storyline. This show had quite the following!! Supposedly this might be the end of the series, but here's to hoping there is more, or at least something else with this ensemble cast.

Here's a short video of the last song R-Kayne (Jesse) sings while he is dying. I noticed there was 2 video cameras filming the festivities, so look out for a video of the complete show. I'll post a link when it appears. By the way, R-Kayne was selling CD's in the lobby after the show that he, Leif, Sam and Colin wrote and performed. The 4-song CD called, 16 Tops is quite hilarious and a excellent parody of the over-used auto-tune tool that seems to be popular with the kids nowadays. If you're interested, it's available for sale for $5, let me know and I'll talk to R-Kayne about getting you a copy.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Meet Your Original Parents!!

Sorry for the long time between posts!
Here's a funny thing I came upon the other day, Winnipeg's newest improv sensations, Your Original Parents! You might recognize some of these guys if you have frequented this blog before. Check out more of YOP's videos on their YouTube channel. I promise, no more long waits until the next post, because we have a Civic election coming up next week. More about that later.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Yogi Bear: 1st Episode- Yogi Bear's Big Break

I was eating lunch the other day at home and had a craving for some vintage Yogi Bear. I didn't realize until I watched it, that this in fact was the very first episode! I went on the view the next two, in chronological order. I will watch all the episodes and I highly recommend you do the same!

This is what I watched when I came home from school for lunch back in my elementary school days...Oh, those memories...

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Somebody Needs Medication!

Wow! Have you heard the Mel Gibson tapes yet? Holy crap! This has to be one of the harshest displays of insanity I have ever heard and if his Hollywood acting career isn't over, somebodies even more nuts than Mel. He truly loses it big time, but don't take my word for it, you have to hear it to believe it. I usually don't lower myself to this level of trashy sensational journalism (because this blog is usually good clean family fun...of course), but with a blog called Sick Puppy, I thought it would be appropriate.

Here's a link for the audio tapes 1-3. (Warning: The language is a tad harsh and it's sometimes difficult to listen to!)

Don't say I didn't warn you!

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Hawks in 6!!!

The Blackhawks win the cup!!!!!! It took only about 49 years, but Chicago are finally the Stanley Cup champions. I've waited my lifetime and I can't describe how amazing this moment is and I don't even play on the team. I don't have time right now to go into detail, but I'm sure when I have more time next week, I'll gush more and more about my beloved Blackhawks. More photos to come!

Monday, May 24, 2010

This Is Gonna Be The Year!

...that the Chicago Black Hawks will break their record long drought and win the Stanley Cup! It's been 49 years, last time they won it was the 1960-61 season. Finally, after all these years of supporting the team through the good, the bad and awful years, I am proud to wear red, black and white.

My first memory of watching NHL hockey was during the 1970-71 playoff finals with Chicago playing the Montreal Canadians. The sheer excitement and speed of the game captivated me and despite being Canadian, I cheered for the Hawks. I'm not sure why, maybe it was Tony Esposito's mask or I liked their jersey's, but since that series I have been a dedicated and long-suffering fan. (The Canadians won the series 4-3) They have come close since, in 72-73 it was another Esposito/Dryden showdown again with the Habs winning the Cup 4-2 and more recently in 91-92 the Hawks made the finals and were swept by the Penguins 4-0 (Lemieux/Jagr era).

If you're a Hawks fan you have reason to be excited. I truly believe their chances are very good they have a realistically great shot at winning the Cup. Everything has come together at the right time and as the playoffs have progressed they have been stronger every game. Who would have predicted the Hawks would sweep the Sharks and that their biggest test in the playoffs so far was the first series against Nashville. If you go back to game 5 against the Preds when Nashville led 4-3 the game with less than a minute in the third, then Marian Hossa took a 5 minute major. If the Preds hung onto that lead they would have taken a 3-2 lead in the series, but instead Kane scores shorthanded with 14 seconds to tie it, then Hossa (fresh out of the penalty box) scores in OT to give Chicago a 3-2 series lead. That dramatic turn of events in my mind was the turning point of the playoffs for Chicago.

So, this week get out all your Blackhawks memorabilia and proudly cheer Winnipeg's newly adopted team...or at least my favourite team, but hey, Jonathan Toews is great reason to get behind the Hawks. JT from St.V has been amazing and has to be considered a front runner for the Conn Smythe and as long as the Hawks don't take the Flyers lightly I have a good feeling about how this will end. I've been waiting my whole lifetime and it would make my day (and year) if the Cup returns to the windy city and isn't it a coincidence that I finally went to a Hawks game in Chicago this April (last regular season game). I guess getting a ticket for one of the Cup final games is out of the question...or is it?
Chicago in 6

In case there's any confusion of when to NOT make plans (other than watching hockey), here are the dates of the Stanley Cup finals:

Saturday, May 29 at Chicago, 8 p.m.
Monday, May 31 at Chicago, 8 p.m.
Wednesday, June 2 at Philadelphia, 8 p.m.
Friday, June 4 at Philadelphia, 8 p.m.
*Sunday, June 6 at Chicago, 8 p.m.
*Wednesday, June 9 at Philadelphia, 8 p.m.
*Friday, June 11 at Chicago, 8 p.m.

- * denotes if necessary
- All Times Eastern

Friday, May 14, 2010

Greatest Comeback Ever?

Can you believe the playoffs so far? First, the Canadians knock off the heavily favoured Capitals in round one, then dispose of Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins in round two and tonight the Philadelphia Flyers complete their amazing comeback against the Boston Bruins. The Bruins took a 3-0 lead in the series before the Flyers squeezed out a overtime win in game 4 and carried that momentum all the way through to game 7. Not since the 1942 Leafs and the '75 Islanders has a NHL team come back from a 3-0 deficit and to top it off, the Flyers were down 3-0 in the first period of game 7, then went on to to win the game 4-3.

So this brings the question, what is more surprising or amazing?...the Canadians eliminating Washington and Pittsburgh or Philadelphia's come from behind series win against Boston?

Round 3 Predictions
Philadelphia (7) vs Montreal (8)
So, your team battles through 84 regular season games so you can seed higher in your conference to gain home ice advantage and it eventually turns out it's the bottom two teams that end up in the conference final...who would have predicted this! So far, home ice has been bogus, all the game sevens this year saw the visitors win and I think the visiting teams have won the majority of games (don't quote me on that one) so far in the 2010 playoffs. What's with all the too-many men on the ice penalties, something like 33 or 34 so far with only 17 all of last year's playoffs. Of course, the decisive winning goal for the Flyers was scored on the power play because of a too many men penalty.

On paper and based on the regular season, both teams shouldn't be here, but they are because they deserve it and have played playoff hockey like it should be played. The Habs are still riding the heroics of Halak, but in round two the Canadians had some offensive help from the Gomez, Cammelleri and Gionta line. Montreal has blanketed the scorers from the Caps and Pens and they continue to play a solid-two way game that will be hard to beat. The Flyers finally got some valuable contributions from Richards, Briere and Gagner during the last 4 games of the series and are 7-1 with a healthy Gagner in the lineup. The key will be goaltending, Halak again needs to be solid, but shouldn't be as busy as the past two series, while the Flyers will have to rely on Michael Leighten to carry the load, as injured starter Brian Boucher will not be back this round. I'm expecting a long and exciting series with two underachieving teams from the regular season battling for a chance to play in the Stanley Cup...and there will be more riots in Montreal!
Montreal in 7

San Jose (1) vs Chicago (2)
What a contrast from the Eastern conference, the two top seeds actually making it to the Conference finals. The Sharks played to their potential against Detroit with only one game where they were outplayed and blown out. The Sharks are dangerous because they have a solid balance from their forwards back to their defence and netminder. Joe Thornton has apparently woken up and finally contributed in the playoffs, lessening the load off the other "Joe", Joe Pavelski that is leading the team in scoring. Chicago is led by Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and Patrick Sharp who were able to score at will against the Canucks and need to deliver big time against the Sharks if they hope to win the series. Both goalies have had their times of brilliance and disappointment, so this is a toss up, I also think this series could go the full seven games. Can the Hawks beat the Sharks and make it to the finals and win their first Cup since 1961 or will the drought (the longest in the NHL) continue??
Chicago in 7

My record is 8-4 (I knew I should have picked the Flyers!)

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Stanley Cup Playoff Round 2 Picks

This year's first round produced some of the most exciting series I have seen in a long time. Upsets galore dominated the storyline throughout the league, particularly in the Eastern Conference where the top 3 seeds were eliminated.

Biggest upset
There were a number, the first team to advance was Philadelphia who took the Devils in 5 games. The Devils came into the series as the #2 seed in the East, while the Flyers qualified for the playoffs on the last day of the regular season. I predicted the upset, but didn't think it would be over so quickly.

In many ways the Boston win over Buffalo wasn't much of a surprise, but again the Bruins barely made the playoffs and seemed to get scoring from everyone. Also the Buffalo defence didn't play up to their expectations.

The biggest upset of the playoffs (maybe ever?) was 8th seeded Montreal taking down the heavily favoured (to win the cup!) Washington Capitals! The highest scoring team of the regular season only scored 1 power play goal in the whole series and 40+ goal scorer, Alexander Semin had 0. Montreal was down in the series 3-1, then Jaroslav Halak shut the door and put on one of the greatest displays of netminding ever, for games 6 and 7. Amazing!!

First round summary
Phoenix came within one game of winning their first ever playoff series. Not since 1987 has the franchise (Winnipeg Jets) advanced to round two. They came so close, but with captain Doan out with injury and the Wings improving as the series went on, Detroit's experience won out in the end.

Colorado also gave a valiant effort winning two games against the talented Sharks who appeared after game 3 shaken and unsure. The Sharks eventually wore out the Avs, avoiding the upset I predicted.

My theory for these upsets and closer than expected series was the "good teams having a bad season" syndrome. Philadelphia, Montreal, Boston and Detroit all were legitimate contenders for the Cup when the season began, but for whatever reason, mainly through injuries to key players, they had lousy regular seasons who struggled to make the playoffs. All these teams have all their top players back (Marc Savard) and now they are playing to their potential.

Round 2 predictions
Pittsburgh (4) vs Montreal (8)

Can Halak duplicate his performance against the Pens? He'll have to if the Canadians have a chance. Game 1 and 2 have happened already as I write this and Halak was up to his tricks again in game 2. The Pen will completely dominate and out-shoot the Canadians in every game, guaranteed, but remember the Washington series. It should be Pittsburgh, but I want another upset...please!
Montreal in 7

Boston (6) vs Philadelphia (7)
Hard to call, both teams are playing their best hockey of the year and this has potential for being the nastiest series. I'll go on a hunch.
Boston in 7

San Jose (1) vs Detroit (5)
I'm cheating on this one, it's two games in right now and the Sharks are up 2-0. The Red Wings will be better and will make a series out of it still, but I still don't think they'll win it.
San Jose in 6

Chicago (2) vs Vancouver (3)
It would be nice to see two Canadian teams advance, but my heart is with the Hawks. The Hawks better show more heart and intensity than they did in game 1 or else it could be short series. The Hawks have been kind of Jeckle and Hyde recently so I'm sticking with them! Sorry Vancouver!
Chicago in 7

So far I'm 5-3...

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

My Playoff Picks!

It's that time of year again, for the next month or two it's pretty much guaranteed I'll be in front of the television watching CBC and/or TSN for the 2010 edition of the NHL playoffs. I don't have time to give my full analysis of each series because I'm watching some games right now, so to be brief, here's my picks for the first round.

Washington (1) vs Montreal (8)

Doesn't look good for the Habs, but goaltending is key. Could be a blowup, but who knows? Still I can't see the Caps losing this series.
Washington in 6

New Jersey (2) vs Philadelphia (7)
Despite being #2 and 7 seed's, this series will be close. Regardless, if Philly is considered the underdog this will be an upset. Sorry Marty!
Philadelphia in 7

Buffalo (3) vs Boston (6)
What happened to the Bruins this year? Contenders last year, pretenders this year. Complete reverse for the Sabres, who are back in the playoffs. Should be low scoring and probably a snoozer. Without Savard, Boston may never score on Miller.
Buffalo in 5

Pittsburgh (4) vs Ottawa (5)
A surprisingly good season for the Sens, it's too bad they have to play the defending Cup champs for the first round. The Pens have been inconsistent this year, but will find their game at some point during round one...?
Pittsburgh in 6


San Jose (1) vs Colorado (8)

As usual the Sharks have cruised at the top of the standings. A completely revamped line-up (except for the keys) hold promise of a Cup, but if recent playoff history matters, they are ripe for an upset. The Avs only has a few names I still recognize, there's no way they'll beat the top seed...or will they?
Colorado in 7

Chicago (2) vs Nashville (7)
I love the Hawks, always have and always will. The Hawks had one of their best regular seasons ever. So, this is easy, the Hawks WILL be in the Cup finals!
Chicago in 5

Vancouver (3) vs L.A. (6)
Never really sure about the Canucks, they have a history of underachieving, but this year the team has more depth than ever (in recent memory). I know next to nothing about the Kings.
Vancouver in 5

Phoenix (4) vs Detroit (5)
The Coyotes were the feel-good story this year and their first appearance in the playoffs in what...8 years or something? These ex-Jets have the unfortunate pleasure of meeting the hottest team in the second half of the season. This will be a close series, but in some ways it will be an upset no matter who wins.
Detroit in 7

Friday, April 02, 2010

Stuff I See Outside My Window (At Work)

Anyone have any idea what's with this?

Seems to be a car covered in sticky-notes, but why? Is it some sort of advertising? Is it an April Fool's joke? Does it say something? Is it art?...Or is it just someone trying to bring a smile to everyone's face?

Whatever it is, it sure got everyone's attention at the stop light...and it brought a smile to my face! Happy April!

Monday, March 29, 2010

What I Bought On eBay.

This is probably old news if you live in my household, but I bought a piece of art last month on eBay. As you might know already, I'm a big comic book/cartoon collector and any time I have a chance to purchase something new and possibly unique, I'll do it, within my budget...of course.

This is an original editorial cartoon from the Omaha World Herald in 1994, by Jeff Koterba. I actually won the bidding back in early February so I thought the timing was good because it was a few days before the start of the Winter Olympics in Vancouver. Earlier that week, the local paper ran a piece on the "Worst scandals in Winter Olympic history. The #1 scandal was the Tonya Harding/Nancy Kerrigan incident when Kerrigan was attacked and injured by a baton-wielding man. It turned out the assailant was hired by Harding's ex-husband and current body guard of Harding, who was one of Kerrigan's teammates on the U.S. figure skating team. The upcoming Winter Olympics and this (event-appropriate) cartoon, I had to have it!

The art work is a pen and ink piece complete with some white-out and pencil marks, that make it all the more authentic. It seemed funny at the time and my kids still don't get the humour in this strip, so I guess you had to be there. Anyways, check out Jeff's site for more great strips and I'll be on the look out for his memoir, Inklings.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Hey Burt, This Is Unacceptable!

Sometimes I feel invisible, maybe I am? There are so many instances that make me wonder, waiting in line at stores being ignored for people behind me that have been there a lot less time than I have. At the old Long & McQuade location, many times I would standing at the front counter for 10-20 minutes waiting to pay for a set of strings or to get any kind of customer service (rentals etc.), usually to be ignored for one of their "buddies" or some older long-haired wanna-be musician that was louder and demanded more attention than myself. I always swore that when I became famous or at least a well-known musician, I would strut back to L & M and fuck- 'em up somehow, maybe snub them if they tried to suck up to me only because I was a "celeb" or I would let loose on the employees for being such rude still pisses me off!

Another time at another pseudo-macho store, McDermot Lumber, I was waiting behind several people at the customer service line, I waited like any other normal line-waiting person and when it was my turn to ask for help, some jerk barges in front of me from nowhere to place an order. Of course, the gutless store employee ignores me and carries on business with, "Mr. aggressive, dressed better and speaks louder than me" all because for some frick'in reason he thinks he has some unspoken privilege and right to be served before me. Am I invisible? What the f***! I admit I was kind of a jerk myself, when he walked past me I may have stuck out a leg, I guess it's just a relax or something, and when he stumbled he gave me this look and asked, "what's your problem?". If I had any guts (I really am trying to control my anger management), I would have explained it to him how rude it is to cut in line (or punched him in the face), but instead I just mumbled and turned away.

I can't count the amount of times I've been to a restaurant when they've forgotten or gave me the wrong order, not anyone else at the table, just me. The times my order at Burger King excluded the fries I ordered or when Subway mysteriously has forgotten the bacon on my Turkey and Bacon sub, I'm paying an extra two bucks for a couple of shriveled up pieces of bacon. Is it because I don't speak up and cause a fuss and I easily let people treat me like shit?

The latest episode was at the local Salisbury House last Friday night. After playing Friday night hockey, me and 3 friends regularly go to Sal's for a late night burger and fries, usually after midnight. We've become such regulars, the waitresses knows our order, a Mr. Big Nip platter (burger, lettuce, fried onions, tomato, Cole slaw and fries) and a drink. This time I had to pick up someone before meeting the guys there, so I asked if they could order me "the usual". When I arrived it was about 12:30 am, they had ordered and I asked for a root beer to go with my burger platter. About 5 minutes later the other 3 guys got their food and they started to eat. Maybe 10 minutes later the waitress came around to give drink refills, I reminded her about my order and she said my order was coming up and that mine was delayed because she had to serve some other tables (whatever that means?). It was probably another 25 minutes later when she brings me a regular burger (patty and onions) with fries, clearly not what I ordered. I overheard the waitress asking the cook when her regular burger and fries order was ready for some teenage guy sitting at the counter with a group of friends (that had arrived at the restaurant much later than I had). I walked over with the plate I was just served and handed it to the waitress and said, "this must be his order", she took it to me and dropped it in front of the confused kid. Somehow my order got missed, that happens. I reminder her what I ordered, sat down and waited. By this time the other guys were almost finished their meals, leaving most of their fries because they had clearly been over deep fried, hard, burnt, dry, hollow, lacking any potato content at all. Eventually a different waiter comes by our table and says our waitress is on break and "what did you order again?", this was really becoming a joke. I told him I have to "take it to go" because I didn't want to sit alone and eat because the other guys were anxious to leave. The food finally came, now it was 1:30am (a full hour since I arrived), and I took my Styrofoam container to the cash counter and we waited to pay. I paid my bill (11 bucks and change and obviously no tip), not even a hint of an apology or a discount for wasting an hour sitting in their restaurant just to take home my food. One of the guys commented, there's no way I should have to pay, but then added that the young people working there don't have a clue about customer service or how to make things right. I'm betting if I loudly expressed my displeasure and screamed at the staff, I might have gotten their attention, but maybe not. I didn't once raise my voice, I never said anything in a sarcastic tone, nor did I question why I never got served. To top things off when I brought the food home, the burger meat was under-cooked and pink and the fries were barely cooked, yellow soggy and raw potato tasting...yuck!
The point is, you won't get anything in this world if you don't speak up for yourself. If that means bitching, whining, complaining, embarrassing, humiliating, harassing and degrading the employees to get their attention, is this what it's come to? As an employee at a retail store, I personally hate when customers employ the above tactics to complain or to get a bigger discount, it's effective to get attention (especially to your boss and other customers in the store), but the lack of respect and arrogance is inexcusable. Some customers do this to try to goat you into a reaction that will put the situation in their corner. Generally common courtesy and respect should be enough to get your point across and you shouldn't have to resort to being a jerk. I don't want to be a jerk to the employees at Sal's, but this is unacceptable, are you listening Burt!!
...but maybe I really am invisible?

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Refreshing My Batteries

I used to hate winter, it was cold, harsh and gloomy. Sludging through knee deep snow, sliding on the ice and feeling the Summer will never come. I've never gone away in the winter to a warmer place, instead opting to tolerate the quarter season of deep freeze.

For the past four winter's my wife and I have embraced the season and enjoyed the sunny, clear skies of the deep freeze by taking a mini-holiday during February for some rest and relaxation. The first year we went to Elkhorn, a luxury resort (hotel) out near Riding Mountain Provincial Park. It was extremely cold that year, but we tackled the cold weather by renting snowshoes and trudged through the ski trails and explored the park. The lodge itself was pretty much a hotel complete with typical hotel trimmings like a pool/day spa, restaurant, and all the rooms in one complex. The room was equipped with a large flat screen TV, fireplace and in-room whirlpool. It was nice, luxurious, but expensive! (just under $200 a night).

For the last three years we tried something different, Bear Country Cottages. Only an hour drive north of the city (compared to 3 hours north-west to Elkhorn) situated between Grand and Victoria Beaches in Belair, MB. They have individual wood cabins that are either two or three bedrooms and they all feature a stocked kitchen (minus the food), a cozy living room with fireplace and satellite surround-sound TV. The master bedroom has a beautiful spacious whirlpool hot tub that has a large picture window overlooking the treed lot (with an outdoor to view deer...or them viewing you). These cabins are built within the forest, but the outgoing road leads to homes and cottages, which in turn lead to Lake Winnipeg. The past two years when we trekked over to the lake, we discovered there was open water near the shore, despite the freezing cold temperatures (it must be at least 10 degrees colder on the lake!). We managed to gaze out into the white horizon with endless white all around us, except for a couple of ice fishing shacks.
Overall a nice way to spend a couple of days in the middle of the coldest time of the year, did I mention the hot tub? The rates at the Bear are very reasonable, $125 Sun-Thurs and $140 on the weekend/per night. This year was great, sitting in the tub watching the Olympics over the sound of bubbling jets sipping on our favourite beverages and enjoying a few days away from the big city, computers and the reality of winter. If only it could be this good every year!

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Early Spring Is On the Way!!...According To The Sockpuppet

Manitoba's groundhog of choice, Manitoba Merv did not see his shadow this morning, so according to some weird screwed-up superstition it means we will have an early Spring. I'm not sure if this is based on logic or science, but I'm pretty sure a "sockpuppet" can't really forecast the future, but maybe the guy attached to the hand under the puppethead buried under the snow knows something we don't know.

Time to put away the shovel...if not, blame the puppet!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Hopper- 1999-2010

He was a good rabbit and he lived a long and happy life. The soft fuzzy guy will be greatly missed, the nuzzles on the toes, his mid-air hops and his lounging around on the living room floor. There will never be another bunny, like Hopper...R.I.P.

Patrice Cormier Suspended For The Rest Of The Season

Judge for yourself, do you think the suspension justified the actions? The QMJHL suspended Cormier for the balance of the regular season and the playoffs, but his team the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies are appealing the sentence.

The Quebec Major Junior Hockey League’s Rouyn-Noranda Huskies announced Tuesday they are appealing the season-long suspension of forward Patrice Cormier.

Cormier was banned for the rest of the QMJHL regular season plus the playoffs for elbowing Quebec Remparts defenceman Mikael Tam in the head.

Huskies general manager Andre Tourigny said Cormier’s elbow was “unfortunate,” but stressed the league went too far in their punishment.

“We were fully aware that the gesture had to be severely sanctioned. According to us, the sanction delivered by the QMJHL (Monday) is not severe . . . it is excessive,” Tourigny told a news conference in Rouyn-Noranda in Quebec’s Abitibi region.

Dozens of Huskies fans who packed the room where the news conference was held burst into applause when Tourigny said his team is going to fight the decision.

In a move to curb excessive violence, the QMJHL handed out one of its most severe sanctions in history Monday by banning Cormier from playing until his team is eliminated from the playoffs.

One of the things that bugs me is that next year he will more than likely turn pro and suit up with the New Jersey Devils or their AHL affiliate. He will sign a seven figure pro contract and continue on with his career unscathed and more than likely will cheap shot another player. His elbow to Anton Rodin of Sweden and Teemu Hartikainen of Finland during pre-competition games during the World Junior Championships last month, proves this guy has a history. Just think, if Canada had won the gold, it would have been team captain Cormier that would have hoisted the cup. This guy's an embarrassment to the country and to the game. His Suspension should have been longer!

What do you think?