Friday, November 29, 2013

101st GREY CUP GAME!!


The 101st Grey Cup game anticipation started ramping up for me immediately after the Saskatchewan Roughriders defeated the Calgary Stampeders by a score of 35-13in the Western Division Final game played in Calgary on the 17th of November. That win put the Riders in the Grey Cup game which is being hosted in Regina this year. This is the first time in the team's 103 year history that they will be playing in the Grey Cup game at home in Mosaic Stadium (Taylor Field for us old guys). Regina hosted the Grey Cup game in 1995 and 2003 but the Roughriders didn’t make it all the way to the big game in those years.

            The “I can hardly wait” phrases started as soon as the last seconds of the CFL’s Western Division Final game ticked off the clock, too. Try as we might, many of us are guilty of wishing time away with our sight so focused on a distant goal that we forget to live in the present. The older I get the faster time seems to go, too, so I make a determined and conscious effort to not push time forward. Regardless, it is a very, very difficult thing to do when events of this magnitude loom only days away. The waiting is interminable.

            As luck, if one could call it that, would have it, the weather decided to take over centre stage by bringing us January-like weather for Grey Cup week solidifying the rest of the country’s impression that we are in a deep freeze here in good old Sask-at-chee-wan about eleven months of the year. A reality we stubbornly refute while acknowledging that it’s too damn close to the truth! The nasty cold conditions seem to be keeping our minds off of the slowness of the clock as we creep along toward the game-time kickoff of the Roughriders impending destiny as Grey Cup Champions in the last Championship game that will be hosted in Mosaic Stadium at Taylor Field.

             It is a well-known fact that the previous Grey Cup parties, and week-long celebrations of the Canadian Football League’s Championship Game in the host city of Regina, are arguably the best the league has ever seen. We sure know how to host a fantastic party for a bunch of “Gappers” (you know, there’s Manitoba and then a GAP and then Alberta, haw, haw, haw).

            Now, we’re at t-minus 5 hours: 31minutes: and 40…39…38…37…seconds to kick off and, as usual, the time has seemed to have flown away from seven long days ago. I am going to leave this article right where it is and go watch a few hours of the pre-game show and then I’ll be back with some closing thoughts after the game. Until later…

            Well, well, well…wasn’t THAT something! WOW! The Saskatchewan Roughriders are the 2013 GREY CUP CHAMPIONS! Again, WOW! Anyone who knows me at all will know that the following statement is a rarity…I am speechless. And a little teary-eyed.

            Of course, I cannot remain speechless forever so on we go. I’m usually not an “I told you so” kind of guy but let’s recall what I wrote in the September 19th edition of this paper shall we-“I, myself, am fully optimistic that the “13th Man” incident from the 2009 Grey Cup game will finally be vindicated in the 101st Grey Cup Game at Mosaic Stadium at Taylor Field in Regina on the 24th of November, 2013, and that the true “13th Man/men-women-children” will have much cause to celebrate.” Told you so. You’re welcome.

            Hours old and the whole story has already become the stuff of legend. The freezing cold temperatures of Grey Cup week turn, overnight, into an unbelievably glorious day with sunshine and above zero temperatures and the Riders, despite a third quarter lull, leave little doubt in RiderNation that they will indeed be crowned Grey Cup Champions as they soundly defeat the Hamilton Tiger-Cats at home in the last championship game to be played in their historic stadium in front of an overwhelmingly partisan green-clad home crowd. It has been over-stated and over-stated but you just can’t make this stuff up. What a storybook ending it was.

“Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence wins championships,”-Michael Jordan (1963-).

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

JFK-50 YEARS LATER


There are certain events in history which, for those who were alive at the time of the event, will remain imbedded in their memory for the rest of their lives; whether it was a sporting event, a world catastrophe, great human achievement or the death of an important or famous person.

If your long-term memory is as acute as mine, (it’s strictly genetics folks, my Mom had it, her Mom had it and some of my siblings have this gift/curse), you will remember details of exactly where you were, who you were with, what the weather was like and how others were reacting to the same event. VE Day, the first manned landing on the Moon, Paul Henderson’s goal in the Summit Series in 1972, or the assassination of John Fitzgerald Kennedy, are exactly the kinds of events that I am talking about.

            John Fitzgerald Kennedy, the 35th President of the United States, was assassinated at 12:30 Central Standard Time on Friday, November 22, 1963, in Dealey Plaza, Dallas, Texas, exactly 50 years ago this Friday. Fifty-years ago and the debate still rages on as to who killed JFK and why, but more on that debate later.

            My Dad, Mom and five of my nine siblings were living in Gravelbourg at the time. My brother Gordie was my closest friend and he was a year-and-a-half older than me. We did everything together. We always walked the five or six blocks to school and home every morning, lunchtime and at the end of the school day, usually with our buddies Bobby Nickish, and Wayne and Walter Schmidt.

            We were always jacking around doing six and seven-year-old stuff, roughhousing and such, and November 22nd, 1963 seemed no different than any other day walking home for lunch. But Gord and I knew that something was up the second we walked through the back door of our house. We were shushed sooner than usual and the seriousness and sorrow in the room made it obvious that something terrible had happened. Did Grandma die? Did someone else in the family die?

            When you’re very young and your parents and older siblings are really upset…you’re upset. What was going on? Dad quietly explained, as best he could to two young boys, about what had transpired in Dallas and at that particular moment there weren’t a lot of details other than the fact that the President of the United States had been shot. Mom and Dad and my older sisters were watching the TV and listening to the radio reports as they were coming in but my brother and I were shooed back to school before President Kennedy was even pronounced dead at Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas. So many years later, acute memory aside, the memories of that day have faded somewhat but I do recall a solemn walk back to school wondering how such a terrible event could happen at all and who would do such a thing.

            That was the general feeling of most of the free world that day and the helplessness would feed conspiracy theorists for the next five decades. How could a Communist sympathizing, 24 year-old high-school dropout, (ex-marine dropout, by the way, with a US Marines’ shooting test classification of “sharpshooter” in 1956 and “marksman” in 1959), buy a mail-order rifle and shoot the King of Camelot, the American Golden Boy and THE President of the United States? If he wasn’t safe who the heck was? Who was next?

            I’ve read reams and reams of information on the subject and watched numerous documentaries and there is so much information available on the internet now that I couldn’t possibly live long enough to digest it all but I’m leaning towards the “lone gunman theory” regardless of the Conspiracy Theorists.

            You don’t have to believe me, though, do your own research and decide for yourself, if you haven’t already, but before you do check out author Brad Meltzer’s Decoded series for an in depth look at the complete story.

             Fifty years later and the subject will still spark a lively debate. Whether you were alive at the time, or not, the assassination of John F. Kennedy will remain one of the most talked about, tragic and infamous moments in, not just the 20th Century, but in all of human history.

“Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.”-John F. Kennedy (1917-1963)

Thursday, November 14, 2013

SO YOU HAVE SMOKED CRACK!

An old friend who is a peer-age co-worker and happens to share similar political views as I do, also happens to be much more obsessed with the Excited States of America’s political activities than our Canadian politics, because he says that Canadian politics are bland, vanilla, boring, blah, blah, blah, in comparison to the old US of A’s.


Now, granted, they’ve got some interesting stuff going on down there, what with the Republican Party shutting down the government recently and the whole Obamacare thing and then there’s their love of guns and the resulting mass shootings etc.; oh…wait…sorry...”Guns don’t shoot people; people shoot people” yada, yada, yada, (but that’s a debate for another time), so it’s hard not to look over the 49th Parallel fence to see what’s happening in the next door neighbour’s yard, you know? But that was before November 5, 2013, that is.

I will disagree with him completely when he says that politics in Canada are boring and especially on a day when three Canadian Conservative Senators, Patrick Brazeau, Mike Duffy and Pamela Wallin were suspended from the Senate without pay or the use of Senate office resources, over allegations of “gross negligence” related to their expense claims, for the remainder of the current parliamentary session, which ends in 2015.

The unprecedented suspensions of the three Senators was overshadowed, if you can imagine any other news overshadowing this kind of action, by Toronto Mayor Rob Ford’s bombshell admission that he, in fact, HAD “smoked crack cocaine “about a year ago” and had been lying about the whole sordid affair ever since an alleged video of him smoking crack first came to light months ago.

But in his typical Rob Fordian confrontational style he said, “Yes, I have smoked crack cocaine. But I am not an addict. Have I tried it? Probably…in one of my drunken stupors.” Oh, oh…“drunken stupor”…okay, then…when you put it like that, you know, everything’s better because you were in a drunken stupor at the time and who doesn’t do weird and wacky stuff when they’re in a drunken stupor? That makes all the difference in world, eh? All better now.

As if that admission wasn’t completely lame enough he goes on to say that, “I’ve made mistakes but I love my job, I love this city, I love saving the taxpayer’s money and I love being Mayor.” Isn’t that special? And he continues…”For the sake of the taxpayers…we must get back to work immediately…I was elected to do a job and that’s exactly what I’m going to continue doing.” So, you know, shuddup about it already…I’ve already said I made some drunken stupor mistakes…so…are we good? Can we move on? No? What’s the problem?

Ford said he’d work to regain the trust of Toronto residents and that they’d “have a choice to make” in next year’s municipal elections. Only Rob Ford could take an admission of this magnitude and turn it into a campaign pledge! If you Googled “audacity” whose face do you think would come up? Me too.

Before we continue, I will admit to you that I know a little bit about drunken stupors first hand and there are things that have occurred in said stuporous states that maybe I wouldn’t easily admit to either, but, I also don’t think I’m in the minority there…AND, here’s the kicker, I am not the Mayor of the fourth largest city in North America behind only Mexico City, New York City and Los Angeles who has been lying to his 2.8 million constituents for the past six months.

Yes, we Canadians probably cover eighty times as much United States news as they’d ever cover of ours but Rob Ford has changed a lot of that with a few “mistakes” and I’m thinking that the three scandal-ridden Canadian Conservative Senators, Brazeau, Duffy and Wallin, may be just a wee bit happy that he’s stolen some of their contemptuous thunder this time around.



“It is the public scandal that offends; to sin in secret is no sin at all.”- Molière.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

IT'S A SCARY WORLD OUT THERE!


As Halloween is upon us and all things spooky dominate the conversation I harken back to the days of my youth when the Moose Jaw television station we always watched would put on a “Night of Fear” a couple of times a year showing horror movies from dusk ‘til dawn. They would show the standard scary flicks involving monsters and ghosts and aliens and killers of all kinds. Most of our gang of friends would gather at someone’s house to watch as many of the movies as we could before getting too scared or finally giving in to sleep. I always preferred our friends coming to our house so I wouldn’t have to walk home in the dark from someone else’s place.

I was about eleven or twelve-years-old at the time and thoroughly enjoyed being scared and scaring others. In fact, the Hubbard siblings, like every other family I would imagine, would quite often attempt to scare the crap out of each other by jumping out from behind something or chasing each other around with real or manufactured insects or some such scary object. Who didn’t like a good scare?

I don’t know how it works with other people but my interest in horror movies waned years ago. I guess daily life is scary enough for me now so I don’t feel the need to scare myself artificially as much anymore. Canadian winter driving is just about enough to scratch my scary itch nowadays. Paying the bills and worrying about that weird looking mole and losing the satellite signal right at the most crucial time in my favourite show is about all the frightening I require.

Having said all of that, I still have imagination enough, though, to creep myself out when I’m climbing back up the stairs after my three-in-the-morning visit to the loo and imagining a skeletal hand reaching through the banister spindles to grip my ankle as I hurry my goose-bumped self back to bed in the dark.

So what’s with the human fixation on all things spooky and scary? Why do we feel the need to get scared? My research revealed that, “The hormonal reaction we humans get from responding to a threat or crisis is what motivates us to ‘like to be scared’. This is the same flight or fight syndrome which guaranteed our survival in more primitive times. At the moment we are threatened, we have increased strength, power, heightened senses and intuition. This increase in mental and physical capacity is commonly referred to as an ‘adrenaline rush.’ Basically, you can get this feeling defending yourself against a lion in the jungle or sitting in a theatre watching a horror movie. We, as humans, appear to be hard-wired to be drawn to this feeling. It is older than we are as a species, and is tied to our survival; without it, we would have perished and died long ago.”

So that makes sense I guess. Broken down to a simpler form one could say that being scared makes us feel more alive.

While I might not be up for another all-nighter of horror movie watching I can still get a little excited around this time of the year as we indulge ourselves during the spookiest time of the year. Enjoy your Halloween everyone!

“When you’re scared, when you’re hanging on, when life is hurting you, then you’re going to see what you’re really made of.”-Sylvester Stallone (1946-).