Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Hockey Diaries: Part 2

Another hockey game - another rainy Monday night. Uncanny. Or maybe not. Maybe it's just this time of year. Hockey runs from October to
December and then from January to April so perhaps the chance of rain once a week is pretty high. Who knows but If the trend continues I may start forming theories.

On the upside, my play improved from last week. For some strange
reason I have an unusually reliable backhand. I'm sure it fools most goalies because a) many goaltenders admit it's harder to see a backhand leave the stick; b) a back hand is usually an odd tumbling puck with a sort of change up pace.

The two I got through tonight were both top corner, soft off-pace shots. Even when my passes went awry, as they often do, or my wrist shots flutter uselessly wide of the net, I can still count on a backhand causing trouble for someone. Sometimes I feel like that shot is so accurate and soft I could flip a puck into a teacup and not make a splash. Maybe that's why it fools a goalie - they just aren't expecting tea service during a game of shinny.

Set out the good china - I've got a shot to practice.


Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Hockey Diaries: pt.1

First night of the season, and I played terrible. Of course it could've been the last night and I still could've played terrible. Yet the bones ache and the muscles (muscles? Really?) cramp and creak. And my feet? It felt like I was running around on wooden blocks not sliding on sharpened steel. I can only hope I get my head back in the game because it might be a long time before my body joins in. Though the thing is I'm not out of shape, I'm just not in game shape. Meaning I've forgotten how to pace myself on a shift, and how to pace my shifts through the game. As the season goes on, you don't get in any better shape - you just remember when you should bother.

What's the deal with rain on Monday nights? I can't believe how often it is pissing rain when I drive to hockey. I'm going to keep a weather diary just so I can track this anomaly.


Monday, October 20, 2008

My New Favourite Word

This is my new favourite word: Sprezzatura (sprett-sah-toorah). How did I go so long without knowing this word? Perhaps because it is the exact opposite of everything I’ve ever done. If sprezzatura means making something difficult look easy then it really is the opposite of me. I make swimming look like drowning, walking look like tripping, and joking look like choking. The well rehearsed offhand aside is probably the best example of this. A zinger you’ve been waiting to let loose; waiting for just the opportune time to make a comment that everyone else believes is improvised. There are plenty of samples to choose from (“Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee”) but the most recent one that comes to mind is Jack Layton’s “sweater” remark to Stephen Harper. Though he kind of wrecked it by returning to it again and again in the days following the debate.

Like Layton, I long for the ability to toss out impromptu missives like darts from my mouth rather than the spittle that usually spews forth. How does one appear more perfectly nonchalant? Practice, practice, practice.

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Sunday, October 19, 2008

Little Blue Books 

The story of Emanuel Haldeman-Julius (1889-1951) reads like a Coen brothers script.
Photos from a lecture at the Powerplant Gallery in Toronto

A young go-getter Emanuel Julius begins working at the Socialist newspaper Appeal to Reason where he meets and marries a wealthy heiress. Eventually he buys 25% of the paper with the heiress' backing and starts publishing public domain classics in pamphlet format. When EHJ discovers there is a voracious appetite for the pint sized books, he quickly starts churning out pamphlets consisting of re-printed classics and commissioned originals from notable authors such as Upton Sinclair and Clarence Darrow. Not all of Haldeman-Julius contributers were as esteemed and the quality of the Little Blue Books, as they were later called, quickly deteriorated. The following titles attest to the range of work published:

1507. A Rational View of the Sex Issue [by] Harry Elmer Barnes.
1508. What You Should Know about Poisons [by] Heinz Norden.
1509. The Gay Chronicle of the Monks and Nuns [by] Joseph McCabe.
1515. The Love Affair of a Priest and a Nun (Abelard and Heloise) [by] Joseph McCabe.
1516. Facts You Should Know About Gonorrhea [by] Heinz Norden.
1517. Land, and Old Man and His Wife [by] Konrad Bercovici.
1523. How to Avoid Catching Venereal Diseases [by] Heinz Norden.
1524. Famous Eccentric Americans [by] J. V. Nash.
1534. How to Test Your Urine at Home [by] B. C. Meyrowitz.
1535. How to Throw a Party [by] Heinz Norden.
1536. Facing Death Fearlessly [by] Joseph McCabe.
1537. The Essence of Unitarianism [by] L. M. Birkhead.
1538. A Rational Sex Code [by] E. Haldeman-Julius.
1545. Why I Do Not Fear Death [by] E. Haldeman-Julius.
1546. An Encyclopedia of Sex [by] E. Haldeman-Julius.
1553. Beneficial Exercises for Nervousness and Indigestion [by] C. O. Benson and Dr. C. L. Smith.
1560. Why I Quit Being a Prohibitionist [by] Harry Hibschman.
1564. Homosexuality in the Lives of the Great [by] J. V. Nash.
1565. The Danger of Catholicism in the Public Schools [by] E. Haldeman-Julius.
1566. How to Conduct a Love Affair [by] Betty Van Deventer.
1567. Making Men Happy with Jams and Jellies [by] Elizabeth Palmer.

Of course, some of the more popular titles involved titillating topics of sexuality or the conduct of the sexually active (or deviant). Yet these pamphlets, sold mostly through mail-order for 20 for $1, made E. Haldeman-Julius wealthy. He became a man about town, which couldn't be that hard in a town like Girard, Kansas. Eventually though, his wife, Matrice ran off with his alcoholic assistant leaving Emanuel alone to womanize and write many, many, many, many, many, many more Little Blue Books.

In the end, it was E. Haldeman-Julius' writing that may have been his undoing. In a book about the FBI he outed J. Edgar Hover as a homosexual which of course didn't go over too well at the Bureau. The FBI already had a file on Haldeman-Julius due to his role as a publisher of socialist literature and as they dug deeper they discovered EHJ's unpaid taxes. EHJ was charged and found guilty of tax evasion but he died before he served any time. In 1951, he was found dead in his pool, or as many locals believe, the FBI murdered him.

His printing house was left to his son but on July 4th, 1978 errant fire works landed on the roof catching fire and burning the building down.

See what I mean. A Coen brothers' script.

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Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Idle Time 

1st Cover Mock-up of the Idler's Glossary by Seth

Tonight I didn't go out of my way to go to something that isn't part of a book series. Let me explain. On my way home I stopped off at the Gladstone Hotel to take in a book promotion as part of Pages Bookstore "This Is Not A Reading Series". The event was to promote a very small book which took 4 people to create. Mark Kingwell wrote the introduction, Joshua Glenn wrote it, Seth designed and illustrated it and is edited by Daniel Wells.

I'm glad I did. Hailed as the Annual General Meeting of the Royal Society of the Indolent, The Idler's Glossary was showcased as your guide and tool kit for arguing in favour of "idleness". Not just in favour of it, but also to encourage people to be more productive through idling. Who am I to debate that? It's well known that the best ideas come to us in a relaxed state, when the mind is at ease. Which is why we have our best ideas when nodding off or when showering in the morning.

I'm not sure how being idle will affect our GNP, but in this stressful time of economic turmoil we could use all of the rest and good ideas we can get. So go forth and relax. Everything will be alright.

Our regular programming will resume after a brief nap.