Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Grey Cup: The Opera

It occurred to us, up here in the press box, draining the last of our Thermos bottles of "hot chocolate and Oxo"--heh heh--that the quest for a cup and a ring is the stuff of mighty legends. Were not King Arthur and his guys in search of the Holy Grail? And all those Wagnerian dudes after a ring?

So leave us lift the annual drive for the Grey Cup and the Grey Cup rings to a higher artistic level, and perhaps draw in a new group of fans. Let us turn the Grey Cup game into--an opera!

Imagine hearing Mike Reilly and Bo Levi Mitchell singing signals to their teams! Think of the possibilities--the Coach's Challenge Aria, the Referees Recitative, the Cheerleaders Chorus, the Triumphant Touchdown March!

"Hello, Operator? Get me Richie Wagner!"

Monday, November 27, 2017

No Joy in Cowtown

Once again, Calgary Stampeders fans know how the people of Mudville felt when the mighty Casey was struck out.

Someone should write a guide on "How to Play Better and Still Lose." Sportswriter Scott Stinson noted that the Stampeders, since 2010, have a win-loss-tie record of 107-35-2. The Toronto Argonauts: 67-77.

In the 2017 Grey Cup game, the Stampeders had 24 first downs, the Argonauts had 12. Other statistics: 74 yards rushing, Stampeders, Argonauts 16; 373 yards passing for the Stampeders, 297 for the Argos; ball possession, Stampeders 36:57, Argos 23:03. But at the end of sixty minutes, which team got the Grey Cup rings? The Argonauts.

Possibly the only aspect of the game more disspiriting for some was the halftime show, but that was an opportunity to go to the kitchen and stir the stew.

Grief counselling has now been put in place in Calgary.

But here's to the CFL, and to players who take the field in any weather, including snow so dense even huskies think twice about going outside.

--Slap Maxwell, for PD Sports.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Winter is Icumen In

As we endured the bone-chilling dampness and stiletto-sharp wind of November, the jukebox in our brain immediately began to play Ezra Pound's "Winter is Icumen In," which is, of course, the dark or flip side of the welcoming song, "Summer is Icumen In."

Pound's version includes the lines "Raineth drop and staineth slop/And how the wind doth ramm!" We would quote the entire text, but it includes some robust cursing, which we could not allow on a blog approved appropriate for all audiences.

However, we were moved to some robust cursing ourselves, when this line of Pound's came true: "Skiddeth bus and sloppeth us."

Winter is icumen in. Prepare.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Talking Turkey in the USA

It is Thanksgiving Day in the United States of America, that great nondenominational holiday when families come together to argue only about football and politics and who gets the wishbone.

And so, we wish a glorious day to friends and kin, if any remain, in Bad Axe, Michigan; Rowlett, Texas; Issaquah, Washington; Elko, Nevada; Virginia Beach, Virginia; Sausalito, California; and New York, New York.

Please pass the pumpkin cheesecake and the Bourbon.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Seventy Years of Royal Marital Bliss

We wanted to send a congratulatory card to Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip, but there aren't a lot of 70th wedding anniversary cards. As for gifts, all we could find were forty-inch metallic gold balloons in the shape of 70, and a "novelty cushion cover," which probably would not suit the palace decor.

The appropriate gift for a seventieth is said to be platinum. Certainly the monarch and consort deserve that--they have, in the words of the record industry, "gone platinum."

Apparently our invitation to the celebratory dinner got lost in the mail. Pity--we had looked forward to sharing a few drinks with Prince Harry.

If you were there, please let us know what was on the menu. We're guessing it wasn't bubbles and squeak.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Post-game Post Mortem

Yet another playoff game with a puzzling call in the final, critical moment. Football fans will recall Pete Carroll's call for a pass instead of a Marshawn Lynch plunge when the Seahawks were on the one-yard line in the Super Bowl, and Dave Dickenson's failure to call rusher Jerome Messam's number at the end of last year's Grey Cup game.

This past weekend, the call that astonished pretty much everyone was Jason Maas's decision to go for a field goal instead of a touchdown, which could have led his Edmonton Eskimos to a tie with the Calgary Stampeders, and pushed the game into overtime.

Eskimo players, and players and coaches of other teams, have diplomatically refrained from commenting on the Maas decision. (Except for Stampeder star defensive back Alex Singleton. Stampeder QB Bo Levi Mitchell gently chided his teammate, saying, "You should have asked me that question first, so he'd know what not to say.")

Sports commentators, of course, have no interest in diplomacy, and were quick to leap on the Maas call. The most sympathetic comment came from Jock Climie, who spoke of curious calls made at the conclusion of games, saying, "Sometimes coaches go into brain freeze."

Maas has our sympathy, too, knowing the kinds of dreams he's going to be having for a very long time.

                                                          Slap Maxwell, for PD Sports.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Typing with Twain

Okay, we know it's a football day--Slap Maxwell is up there in the press box--but two items from yesterday deserving of note:

1. It was on November 18, 1477, that the first book to be printed in England came off William Caxton's Westminster Abbey Press. The book: "Dictes and Sayengs of the Phylosophers," by Earl Rivers. Still waiting for the movie version.

2.  And it was November 18, 1865, when Mark Twain's  breakthrough story, "The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County" was published. But what is less known is that Twain was the first writer to type a manuscript (he used a Remington) and to give it double spacing. Praising his typewriter, he said, "It don't muss things or scatter ink blots around." Twain would have loved the computer.

Now, back to the games.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

More than Moore to Alabama

While we may be distressed by the latest news from Alabama and Judge Roy "I was just helping her with her homework" Moore, it's good to remember other aspects of Alabama. In song, for instance.

To begin, there is the lovely ballad "Stars Fell on Alabama"--Jack Teagarden's version is classic.

Then there's "I'm Alabamy Bound." Let's all sing--

"I'm Alabamy bound,
Don't want no heebie-jeebies hanging 'round.
Just gave the meanest ticket-man on earth
All I'm worth
To put my tootsies in an upper berth."

And finally, who can forget Phil Harris's "That's What I Like About the South"?

"I wanta go back to Alabamy,
See again my dear old mammy.
Her cooking's bad, her hands are clammy,
But what the hell, it's home."

Monday, November 13, 2017

The Maple Leaf---forever?

Or so it seemed, as we gathered up yet another gigantic bag of multicolored leaves from the deck. We looked out at the stripped branches, and thought of Shakespeare's phrase: "bare ruined choirs." But working our way through the stack of fallen foliage, we kept thinking of the once well-known song "The Maple Leaf Forever."

It hasn't been sung anywhere for decades, and never caught on in Quebec, where there was some resentment toward the opening lines:

"In days of yore
 From Britain's shore
 Wolfe, the dauntless hero, came,
 And planted firm Britannia's flag
 On Canada's fair domain."

Montcalm doesn't even get a mention. And "came" is not a rhyme for "domain."

The last time we heard this sung was at a breakfast for the Moose Jaw Times-Herald's carriers. There were three tables of pre-teens, and we were given a singalong challenge. Our table--earnest little patriots--chose to sing "The Maple Leaf Forever." We were soundly beaten by the table that delivered a raucous "Ham and Eggs."

And let's face it: "Ham and Eggs" is a much better song.

"Ham and Eggs, ham and eggs,
 I like mine fried nice and brown,
 I like mine fried upside down.

"Ham and eggs, ham and eggs,
 Flip 'em, flop 'em, flip 'em, flop 'em,
 Ham and eggs!"

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Movember Moustache Memo

According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the longest moustache ever measured was grown by Ram Singh Chauhan of India. His spectacular upper lip adornment stretched for fourteen feet. This probably meant he had to pay an extra fare to take it with him on a plane. Or he could wrap it around himself, like a hairy comforter.

The 14-foot 'stache--gentlemen, there is your challenge!

Monday, November 6, 2017

"Not a Guns Issue"

President Krusty the Klown (sorry, Krusty--unfair to you) is in Asia, doing what he likes best: eating, tweeting and playing golf. He is also delivering badly written speeches badly, and, when ad libbing, using his seventy-word vocabulary in all the wrong ways.

"Folks, this is not a guns issue, this is a mental health issue. Now I know that in March I revoked an Obama ruling requiring background checks on gun buyers who had a history of mental illness, but as my very good friends in the NRA pointed out, to have subjected these people to checks would have 'unfairly stigmatized the disabled and infringed on their constitutional right to bear arms.' Good writing, huh? Gotta get some of those people working on my speeches for 2020. But back to the  subject, whatever it was. Oh, yeah. As Mitch McConnell said--and Mitch is weak, but was right on this--right after a mass shooting is not the time to talk about gun laws. No, wait until they've just become another statistic. Speaking of which, I see the Center for Disease Control says that the number of gun deaths in the United States was up again in 2016, but hey, who listens to those wonks? And besides, some of these reports may be fake news. Remember how some people said the shooting at that school in Sandy Hook was staged? Not saying they're right, not saying they're wrong, just repeating what some people are saying. Finally, apparently this seriously deranged guy was dealing with some domestic problem. Well, I've had to deal with the odd domestic problem myself, so if you have one, folks, talk to me. Meanwhile, hold high the sacred Second Amendment. In guns we trust."

Editorial note: It's unlikely any reader of this blog will have a stash of assault weapons in the basement, but we felt compelled to post it anyway.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Turn Back the Clock

"Frank," his wife said, "did you remember to turn back the clock?"

"Oh, I forgot about that, Myrna."

"Well, better do it now. We want to be sure we're at the right time."

Frank moved from room to room, resetting clocks, but Frank's arthritis was making it difficult, and his hand kept slipping. Every time he tried to turn the clock back, it jumped a few hours. Then it jumped an entire day.

"Myrna," he called, "it's yesterday."

"What do you mean, Frank?"

"I mean, I was resetting the time, and it jumped back a whole day. Wait a minute, Myrna--now we're back in July."

"You know, it actually feels like that. It's so warm! And look outside at the garden!"

"Myrna, I turned the clock some more, and we're in 1975!"

"Oh, Frank--that was such a good year! And you're looking young and slim again!"

"What year would you like it to be?"

"I think my favourite year was 1962."

"Well, here we are--1962 again!"

"Oh, Frank--we've set the right time!'

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Grow That 'Stache!

Once again, we have arrived at Movember. Not November, but Movember, the moustache-dominated month when men are encouraged to become hirsute in support of male health. It has not been scientifically proven that a moustache affects any part of the male anatomy other than the upper lip, but it is for a good cause, so we embrace the moustache, even if many lady friends are reluctant to do so.

There are a number of handsome moustache styles from which to choose: the classic handlebar; the pencil-line, made popular by Errol Flynn and Caesar Romero, a favorite with lounge lizards everywhere; the Zapata; the Fu Manchu; and the waxed and pointed Hercule Poirot. The bushy John Bolton and the untrimmed Albert Einstein are not recommended, unless you enjoy filtering your bouillabaisse thru hair.

Gentlemen, we have thirty days in which to sprout, cultivate, trim and shape facial decoration. Grow that 'stache! (Not you, Madam.)