Monday, February 9, 2009

Allergic To Saturday Nights

Much has been said about last Saturday's loss to the Toronto Maple Laffs, but what everyone seems to forget is to put it in recent historical context: the Canadiens just about never win against Toronto when the game is played on Saturday nights, in front of a national audience on Hockey Night In Canada, whereas the Leafs always give it their all to show the rest of the country that they can, indeed, win a game per week. Habs players couldn't care less - and that's fine. Losing a game per week isn't all bad.

The trouble is when you add that sure-fire loss to a crappy team to a stretch of bad games and sour defeats. A week in the Mountains should do good. If not, well...

Giguère hasn't played in two weeks, he'll surely be available, add Lecavalier and Bouwmeester - and you can give away anyone in: Kovalev, A. Kostitsyn, S. Kostitsyn, Plekanec, Bégin, Gorges, Higgins, Stewart, Chipchura, kids in Hamilton, one or two of Price, Halak and Denis, and draft picks. Surely someone's worth picking up in there.

And then we'll have 2 months to get these boys to gel, make nice and learn to win.

Winning, however, will not start tonight. Choose the Flames.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Lux Interior Of The Cramps: R.I.P.

It was late in 1989 or early in 1990 and for the second time I went to Sam The Record Man, a popular chain of record stores at the time, to exchange what I thought was a defective Love And Rockets cassette, its then-unknown to me lo-finess sounding more like a muddy copy of a muddy copy of a muddy tape than the clean sounds I was more accustomed to, be it the pop crap of MC Hammer of the hard rock of Guns N' Roses or the new gangsta sounds of N.W.A.

My mother had given me a ride there and was waiting in the car as I brought the 'defective' cassette back to exchange it for the final time. I went straight to the rack, grabbed the tape and went straight to the cash where I was fourth or fifth in line, receipt in hand, ready for the exchange. I took a look into the Bargain Bin, in case I would find that elusive Samantha Fox cassette that wasn't a good seller and maybe they had lost patience with and would finally let me leave with at a price I could afford, hopefully 99 cents. It was part of the experience of going to Sam's, searching the Bargain Bin for that rare, obscure find that would forever change your life.

Alas, all I could find as I was nearing the bottom of the bin was the Chess soundtrack with the Murray Head track One Night In Bangkok - for $4.99, about $4.50 more than I would have been willing to pay for an already-old One Hit Wonder. And that's when SHE appeared.

Topless, wearing a thong and high-heel shoes, redheaded and - most important - $1.99, a price I could afford. The Cramps was the name of the band, and I knew absolutely nothing about them, but I didn't need to. She had stolen my heart and was likely to step all over it. ''Stay Sick!'' was the name of the record, and I was sure it would live up to its title, and I was sure she would, too. I took her home and couldn't wait to get there.

Oh, I had gone there for Love And Rockets, but what mattered most now was to find out what The Cramps were all about. I was eleven years old and I didn't dare take the cassette out of the bag and show it to my mom, who even inquired if I wanted to use the car's tape deck to test for sound quality, and the only excuse I could find for not opening my bag was ''no, really, I want to keep it suspenseful all the way home''.

The second the car was parked in front of the house, I ran straight into my room, reached in the bag and pulled the tape out, unwrapped it in record time and stuck it into my dual tape deck - and that's when the shock came. There was a punk-rockabilly band, tight as all heck, with an Elvis impersonator singing, but not the cheesy Elvis my mom liked, a dangerous one who was likely to drive up to elementary schools and offer kids some candy if they get into his car.

And I opened the booklet to find out that these guys were dressed like girls. Not wanna-be girls, not gay-for-eyeliner drag queens like Poison, no: actual hot, highly fuckable young-adult-looking horny secretary girls wearing leather, vinyl and animal patterns, the type that if they didn't take your virginity away would help you get Samantha Fox in your bed 'cause they were that cool.

And that's the way The Cramps were built. Lux Interior once said that when they played CBGB's, they thought it was a one-night thing, they wanted to see what would happen if they went on stage doing what they did, see if they would get beat up, or what.

What happened is they rocked. They could shock you into getting your attention, but once they had it, they were going to keep it with their chops. They did it with mine - and with many others.

Today, we learned the death of the one and only Lux Interior, which very likely means the end of The Cramps. After Ron Asheton of The Stooges, we lose another very important figure in meaningful music. The link above will lead to a bunch of videos and quotes on the man, do yourselves a favour and check some of them out.

I feel lucky to have seen them live in NYC in 2005 at Avalon, which was none other than the rechristened Limelight I had played in 6 years before, a redesigned and recycled church become palace of rock. Even if the outside line-up made it so that we only saw the last few minutes of the show, those minutes were enough to make the night worthwhile.

I have a feeling I'll be listening to a lot of Cramps stuff for the next while and, if history repeats itself, maybe I won't be listening to Love And Rockets at all for the next two or three weeks.

It's Dangerous To Cross The Street

It's bad enough that just about half the planet couldn't survive a winter here, that many of our homeless actually die every year, we can't even trust our snow plows to not run us over when crossing the streets anymore.

That's right: in two separate incidents involving trucks making a right but in which pedestrians had right of way, an elderly couple and an elderly man died just by crossing (or at least attempting to cross) a street. We can't even trust the people who shovel our fucking snow (for comfort, yes, but mostly for security issues) to not run us over.

I had a conversation the other day when me and the Lady Of The House saw a race on a two-lane heavy-traffic street between two tow trucks going at least three times the speed limit to answer a call, ultimately ending with one of them ramming the other into a street post and fearing for his life. The conversation went like this: the most dangerous drivers in this city are, in order, cab drivers, snow plows, and tow trucks - all Service Vehicles, whose job it is to provide the population with a service, and that service being to drive others and help others to drive, yet very few follow the law (they all run red lights, go the wrong way on one-way streets, make a mockery of the speed limit...) and most are a danger to those on the road at the same time as they are.

It surprises me that, as a species, we keep finding new stupid ways to off one another.

Of course, the mayor is saddened by these deaths, and urged drivers to be more careful - and pedestrians to be careful too. I would recommend he hibernate instead of having his PR team come up with such lame bullshit.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Super Bowl XLIII Aftermath

Well, there were fine points, and there were wrong points.

It took three quarters for the game to start meaning anything, and for the players to start showing some passion and emotion - except the guy who ran for a hundred yards, that was pretty spectacular.

For the second straight year, it was down to the wire and only decided in the final couple of minutes. Too bad the wrong team won. There is no way Ben Roethlisberger should have his name mentioned in the same sentence as Joe Montana, Tom Brady and John Elway, but such a thing will become inevitable now that he has won two Super Bowls in his first 5 years as starting quarterback, despite never having been named the game's MVP, and showing dismal stats. Kurt Warner outdid him in every way, yet fell a few points short. Maybe had he given Larry Fitzgerald the ball a little earlier on, he might have had a shot.

But that's also the good news, isn't it? The Steelers won by too few points, so by Vegas standards, anyone who chose the Cardinals ends up a big, big winner. Predictions-wise, for wins and losses, I'm at a disappointing 1-2, but where the money is concerned, this past Super Sunday was a complete success, and I'm 2-1 with the spreads. That's what rules about football: the game itself is like a hard-hitting chess game where the fewest mistakes might give you a win for which the TV network bring in the most side-entertainment and most analysts to pass the time, but you can also end up on the winning side of a bet even after a loss.

I'm so happy with my weekend that I feel like watching another game soon; too bad the Pro Bowl is the next game coming. What a snore-fest that is. The worst All Star Game in pro sports.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Super Bowl XLIII Invitation

A mere hours before The Game, and a hockey game to watch first. Super Bowl Sunday is the best day for a true sports fan - especially when the main attraction isn't a one-sided affair that falls in the hands of a team you hate.

In the spirit of full disclosure, here's an invitation I sent to my friend Nibble Mark, who had been sick of late.

Feeling better? Bettered? Battered? Buttered?

It's Super Bowl weekend, which means it's legal, just for one day, to overindulge in fatty, sweet, salty and poppy foods and drinks to the point of heart-attackism - and, on Super Sunday, it's illegal for your heart to attack! (from what I have gathered through 42 years of watching the Big Game and having seen it evolve from a sporting event into one of ultramegasuperconsumerism - and from the way Homer behaves on any Simpsons Super Bowl Specials)

This takes place around suppertime, 5 or 6-ish, and lasts until 8 or 9-ish because the Half Time show will likely feature some has-been showing us a bit of skin to try to outsell Britney Spears (I'm hoping for Tina Turner, would settle for Beyoncé, praying it's not Sting - last year was McCartney, John Lennon's old retarded chubby friend)

Not to be left out, Les Habitants battle the Bruins at 2PM to make it the Ultimate Couch Sporting Event of the weekend. Which means I'll be making some spicy chicken wings and/or purchasing fried chicken from a place I love. Doritos might try to come in my house as well, but I'm not sure the Tostitos-mozzarella cheese-actual Mexican salsa combo who are picketing in front of my oven waiting for execution will let them. There are rumours that squishy candies will make an appearance, but this has yet to be confirmed by their PR commitee.

I just thought it could be a good time to come see your new TV (still awaiting your manly touch in my basement) and mooch some food so I don't gain a thousand pounds (of muscle) from this Sporting Event. Bring a friend - I have none myself.

This being that, the Invitation is now lauchned into cyberspace, cowboy. Let me know if you're interesting (as the Chinese say).

Le Seb
Well, he should be here any minute now. The hockey game's starting. My money's on the Habs, of course. Smart money will stay clear of this one.

Super Bowl XLIII

Well, it's upon us. The most important game of the year. The reason you bought an HD TV.

For the third time since Hunter S. Thompson's timely demise, I am attempting to fill the void he has created by voicing my opinion on this year's Big Game. So far, I am 1-1, and last year's defeat has cost me huge.

Football, unlike hockey, basketball and baseball, holds its Final in a one-game Super event. And, like on any given Sunday, anything can happen. We saw that last year, when the New York Giants, who had barely made the playoffs, beat the perfect-season-having New England Patriots in the final minutes of the game.

Again this year, a true underdog, the Arizona Cardinals, face off against the heavily-favoured Pittsburgh Steelers, who are going for a league-leading sixth title with the best defense in the league. And, apparently, defense wins championships. Even Barack Obama is rooting for the Steelers - they can't lose.

But they will. In a best-of-seven series, yes, the cream eventually likely rises to the top, but in a winner-takes-all one-game finale, the team that wants it the most and that commits the fewest mistakes wins. And after over a hundred years of messing up, these guys know this is their only chance at ever winning a Super Bowl.

They have a Super Bowl MVP in Kurt Warner, and an unstoppable force in receiver Larry Fitzgerald. Warner is far superior to his overrated adversary Big Ben Roethlisberger, and no one will be able to touch Fitzgerald, who broke an old Jerry Rice record just last week. Yes, he is that good.

The Steelers' only hope is to get through the Cardinals' offensive line and injure Warner. If he has even a second to find Fitzgerald, the game could turn ugly very fast. Most Las Vegas bookies are giving the Steelers a 6-to-10 point edge in the spread. Worst case scenario is you'll need it, and that would make it a nice, tight game in which logic and common wisdom will have prevailed.

But if all goes well, Cinderella will realize that the shoe fits and we'll have an interesting and spectacular game instead, one that will make a betting man rich.