Monday, December 20, 2010

Boudreau vs. Pop 'n Fresh

I have always contended, since the playoffs this past Spring anyway, that Bruce Boudreau reminds me of the Pillsbury Dough Boy. Need proof? I put this up for Tyg's readers but my own can enjoy the fun too!

Sam thinks it's mean - but I'm not being mean-spirited. I'm just doing what the late, great Spy Magazine used to do: Separated at Birth? (I mean, they were mean - they compared Martha Grahm to a rhesus monkey, for heaven's sake - THAT'S mean!)

Decide for yourselves...discuss.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Habs vs. Leafs - November 20th, 2010 - An Experience

(Click to see the photo larger, in all its shutout glory)

Inspired by my new friend Tygerlylly, and this blog entry in particular, I have to write about that night.

We got the opportunity for the cheap seats for this game, and when I told the kids we had tickets, I'd just gotten was a day off school for them. I woke them specifically to tell them and Josh, my regularly-zombie-like-in-the-morning 17-year-old, actually woke in an instant with a big grin. Sam, then 13, was incredulous. "We're going to see Toronto?" Yes. "We're going to be at a Leafs and Habs game?" No, a Habs and Leafs game, but yes. He was ecstatic.

But I had no clue what to expect - I'd been to my first Habs game in YEARS just that September, a pre-season game we won against Ottawa, but I had never been to this match-up. (For those not in the know, there is a deep - usually friendly - rivalry between Montreal and Toronto, on many levels; but in hockey, it's personal, it's religious, and it's fiercely fun) I was told to watch out, it will be a very emotional arena, and wow, was it ever!

Just the Metro ride was anticipation. But when we arrived at the Bell Centre, we were met by pockets of blue and white jerseys. I'd expected some Leafs fans, but this many? Then I remembered that the Als were about to decimate the Argos the next day for the Eastern Conference Grey Cup finals (for my non-Canadian friends - that's our Super Bowl and yes, we put the Toronto Argos away and went on to win the Cup for the 2nd year in a row), and it all made sense. The first guy I encountered, in his group, said, "go Leafs!" I didn't look at him - he was massive and I'm not - but I said, "Well, no, actually, I hope you're not too disappointed when we beat your team tonight. But hey, welcome to my city!" I got out of there pretty fast.

Got our seats, kids wanted food but the warm-up started, so we rushed back to the seats. The roars greeting the Habs were expected; the boos greeting the Leafs were as well. But the volume was WAYYYY up and the grin on my face started to become permanent. There were pockets of Leafs fans throughout the stands, chanting their pathetic encouragements for their team - to which I started my robust "Go Habs Go!" Of course that's all a Habs fan needs, and soon, it was Dueling Team Chants.

When the teams came out on the ice for the beginning of the game, after the flag-bearers did their thing, the arena went dark and the announcer began talking about the late Pat Burns. I knew there would be a tribute, and the hush that fell over the normally bustling Bell Centre was instant. They talked about Pat, and then a short video (well worth your time) was played. The fact that he'd coached both teams playing this night was incredibly poignant. There had been rivalry in the stands but we all cheered together as one team for this coach. When the ice became a portrait of Pat and the logos for all 4 of his teams, we were asked for a moment of silence (you can see this in the video) - I had never thought the Bell Centre, at a hockey game - a Habs vs Leafs no less - would be this silent. I was overcome with emotion as everyone paid tribute to this honorable man.

Then the game. And WOW. Scoreless first period had me standing in line, antsy to get food and back to my seat, and suddenly I felt a Presence behind me. A tower, no less, of a man - and all I could see was blue and white because being (as Tyg likes to put it) "fun-sized", I came up to this guy's navel, that's how big he was. No way was I going to start up with THIS Leafs fan! But he was greeted heartily by comrades from his faction as well as ribbed good-naturedly by Habs fans and employees of the Bell Centre who passed us on their way to other places.

I saw the count-down clock getting closer to the 2nd period, and left my line. Food could wait. Hockey could not.

When Jeff Halpern scored that first goal, the place erupted. My throat was already raw from cheering for the Habs and how they dominated the ice (our penalty kills looked like power plays as we kept the puck well in front of Gustavsson for many of those minutes). But this exceeded ALL expectation (and decibel level)!! The animators in our section went up and down the steps high-fiving everyone, till they came to the lone Toronto fans in our section who didn't want to high-five anyone (awwwww...but why?). The Centre was in a frenzy as the announcer boomed out Halpern's name, and it was Game On.

I got my food for the 3rd period (note to self - and anyone visiting Bell Centre: get your pizza in the first period or intermission; by the time you get in in the third, it's rewarmed and not very cheesy at all) which proved to be even more exciting as Toronto TRIED to rally. A very lovely, well-placed pass by Mike Komisarek gave Cammy our insurance goal. But wait! Komi doesn't play for Montreal anymore! Oops!! Even better!!

That goal was the one that had me losing a few notches of hearing but not caring one bit. It was 3rd period, we were on our way to a shut-out, and it was the Leafs!!

When the voice boomed "one minute left in the period" I thought the rafters would come down. They tried playing hard was the Leafs. And we played for all we were worth to get Carey Price his shut-out prize. When the countdown to the end of the period threatened to explode the roof off the place, I was ecstatic - my boys were beside themselves, and this was the night I'd hoped to create for them - but I got it back in spades.

Walking down the steps, everyone singing the olé song at the top of their lungs, I didn't seem to meet those pockets of Leafs fans I'd seen spouting at the beginning of the game. Hmmmm...could they have left EARLY?

The first order of business, after getting settled, was to text a rabid Leafs fan the photo of the scoreboard. He wasn't amused, but it's all in good fun (which is also one reason I HAD to be at a winning game - he'd have trounced me had we lost).

I knew this game would be filled with emotions of all sorts (added to by the Pat Burns tribute) but I had never experienced a night at a hockey game that would have me saying, "I wish I could see this game all over again." Me? Reliving a game? I'm not a new hockey fan, I'm just new to understanding the sport, and my fanaticism has burst to levels heretofore unknown to me! But it wasn't just the game, it was the entire spirit at the Bell Centre that made me feel so much a part of a group that is as cohesive as a huge family. Strangers high-fiving one another, talking about the game like it was a family reunion, and it made me see the heart of what sports can do: bring people together in entertainment and a little bit of escape in a long week or month, or a tough time. Nothing bonds like a common experience and when that experience is bound by a deep commitment, there are no limits to the wonders it can bring, truly. And yes, I know it's a hockey game - but it made me think about what this sport does - for people, for my City, for my kids, and now, for me.

After the game, my boys proclaimed their "perfect record" - they had been to a Habs-Tampa Bay game in February with my dad (their first); I got them tickets to the 3rd game of the Eastern Conference Final against the Flyers in May; we saw the pre-season game against Ottawa in September and now, this was their 4th Habs game. Each game my kids have attended, the Habs have won. I think I'll buy those boys season tickets!

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Ticking off the masses

In the past couple of weeks, I noticed - as I'm sure so many of you have - the cartoon character profile pics popping up on Facebook, along with a status: "Change your profile picture to a cartoon from your childhood. The goal? To not see a human face on Facebook until Monday, December 6th. Join the fight against child abuse, copy and paste to your status and invite your friends to do the same."

I have always thought of these status updates as digital chain letters. We all got anonymous chain letters when we were younger. "Copy and mail this letter to 10 of your friends, and you will have good luck." (usually these contained some miracle story of Edward or John who had done so, and won the lottery the next day or whose dream soulmate had walked into their lives. They also related the horrendous consequences of Al or Herman who did not send the letter, and died in fiery crashes or whose entire fortunes were wiped out).

Today, if you continue the chain, you are a group player, a cooperator, a good Facebooker. But if you break the digital status chain, if you don't follow the crowd ,you are either seen as unwilling to play, a grinch, or not part of the group. Why? What if you DO play? Well, I've read peoples' self-assessments, one in particular, "I'll be a sheep with everyone else," and frankly, does that not accurately describe what we are when we follow the crowd, especially when there is an unknown faction leading us? Heaven forbid you - like I - speak up against the particular trend du jour! Ire is rained down upon you!

The story behind this particular meme (meme: "The term Internet meme is a phrase used to describe a catchphrase or concept that spreads quickly from person to person via the Internet, much like an esoteric inside joke." - Wikipedia) is that it was never begun for a Cause, per se. It was merely a bit of fun that someone wanted to spread, and was never intended to raise awareness of anything. Somehow, it got hijacked for a cause, albeit one of relative irrelevance, and everyone was off to the races.

Enter The Wet Blanket: me. I couldn't understand how changing one's profile pic to a cartoon could possibly relate to stopping child abuse. I did some researching of this meme and found this article, only one of many in which is clarified that the originator intended for this to be utterly meaningless fun (and there is nothing wrong with that at all, by the way). So I posted on my friends' pages, after they got on the bandwagon, stating my opinion. One of my friends - the comedienne Marsha Warfield - actually changed her profile pic to a stop sign bearing the words, "Stop Child Abuse And Neglect" and her status update merely read: "F*** cartoons." Aha, here was someone who thought the way I did!

So, my raising people's awareness of this meaningless meme began to raise their ire as well. They became defensive, accused me of being self-righteous (or so I interpreted), and exclaimed, "But it doesn't hurt anyone, so why not?" No, it doesn't hurt anyone, but child abuse does. And changing a profile pic, stating "let's be aware of this topic" and sitting back to feel good about one's helping society to get better ...that doesn't help kids who are living in pain, fear, and increasingly eroding self-esteem.

My points are fairly simple: awareness isn't enough. Awareness and understanding are a good beginning. Action is what's needed. If someone is so incensed over child abuse, there are many ways in which they can help: volunteer at shelters which house these families. Donate money to shelters to keep them in operation. Stand up to the woman in the shopping center who has slapped her 2-year-old for crying, or who is pulling just a little too hard on her 4-year-old's arm to get him to keep up with her. We all need to take responsiblity for that which so many believe just isn't their business. But raising awareness isn't enough.

I was challenged in the dialogues that followed my "self righteousness". How can I, someone who is not only raising awareness of cyberbullying but basing my entire graduate thesis on that very thing, say it doesn't help to raise awareness of child abuse to change a profile picture? Again, I feel it's simple: what I'm doing is a thesis which is leading to my new career of educating those who are responsible for kids who might be engaged in cyberbullying situations. I am not simply raising awareness. I am doing something about it. I am going on radio and telling whomever will listen that it is about time we educated the educators to be vigilant and recognize this new heinous threat to our children. I am creating a program for teachers, and one for kids, in which they can interact with the materials and become proactive. I am hoping to continue my research into the topic so that we can have an idea of the impact awareness has on those vulnerable to attacks. That's what I'm doing in my field. Raising awareness is today's feel-good catchphrase. Too many people believe it ends there. Sadly, awareness fades if the topic is not a part of our everyday life. Awareness memes fade even faster. And the meaning of the action fades sometimes before it's even minutes old. I counted at least 6 friends who, after posting their status updates and changing their profile pictures, received responses exclaiming how, "I LOVED that cartoon when I was younger!" or "He's my favorite cartoon character!" Nothing about the Cause, nothing about the seriousness of child abuse, and nothing about how this person is now changed because of the picture.

I'm not criticizing anyone who wishes to have fun. Heaven knows, we could all use more of it in our daily lives, even if it were a fleeting picture on a Facebook page. That's why I post hockey news and comic strips alongside the bullying links I have on Facebook: we can't live serious all the time. But when something calls for serious action, I find it strange to invoke that which brings out delight and laughter. There is nothing fun or funny about child abuse, breast cancer, bullying, animal why do we insist on making Facebook trends so diametrically opposite to the causes they are purported to promote?

In closing - I'm not a wet blanket. But if I bring to the table some serious discussion, please don't feel I am attacking your sense of fun; I am only asking you to justify why you're asking me, as a FB friend, to change my picture, and my status, and in the name of a cause or an illness. We have to remember we are thinking, able human beings, who CAN bring about change in the real world. We should not become computer hounds who are led to believe that by talking about or illustrating it on Facebook, we will cure the evils of society. Let's bring action back to our communities; use Facebook to organize a day of offline action. THEN I'll change my Facebook pic for it!!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Thematic Photography B&W

Thanks, Carmi, for this new thematic photography - Black and White photography is something I love to dabble in, and I did something with a photo a few years ago which I'm posting here. We'd gone to the Botanical Gardens, and I took a picture of Sam and some Lollypop Plants. I took the photo, washed it of color, and then tried a new technique I'd learned just that week, painting color in where I thought it would be most effective. It turned out, the plants were that color, and Sam was wearing the same color, so this picture worked beautifully.

Seeing how young he is here gave me a pang, too...they grow up SO fast...this was 6 years ago, and he was just 7 years old.

Thanks for letting me share!