April 2003

Cup of Soup

Tues, Apr 1, 2003

Childhood Dreams

Before my birthday passed a couple of weeks ago, I listed a few things that I wanted to get as part of the celebration of my quarter-century. They included a license plate that read "SPU", the Optimus Prime Transformer that I had always wanted as a kid but never got, and - of course - the quaint little villa in the rolling hills of Tuscany.

The plates are on order (but "SPU" was taken, so I had to opt for something else), and this morning I tackled number two. A friend of mine runs a toy collector's website, and he managed to find me a collector's edition Optimus Prime shipped from Japan, and it is now sitting on my desk next to me.

I recall year after year, come birthdays and Christmases, asking for that coveted Optimus Prime, longingly flipping through the Consumers Distributing catalogue, and always having my hopes sunk by seeing that big, loud, red sticker reading "Out of Stock".

Now, years later, it is mine. I feel like Lester Burnham on American Beauty after he got his sports car (less the icky obsession over the 18-year-old girl). "It's the toy I've always wanted and now I have it. I rule!"

I'm still waiting on the Tuscan villa, however. Any day now, I'm sure.

Sun, Apr 6, 2003

Playoff Fever

The NHL playoffs are upon us again. 16 teams competing for 16 gruelling wins in the quest for Hockey's Holy Grail. My favourite time of year.

Join the Spudles' Cup of Noodles Promotional Playoff Contest! You could win an exciting prize!

Tues, Apr 8, 2003

Old Man Winter

There's a crisis at the seniors home down the block. There's a missing person, and police are frantically searching to find him and bring him back. Yes, Old Man Winter has escaped again and is running rampant, ruining what is supposed to be the welcome arrival of spring. And, just like a crotchety old man without his Depends, he's left his mark all over the area.

Frankly, we're getting pretty tired of his antics. "Oh, it's just nature," they say. "Can't you put up with a bit of snow?"

Well, yes, of course we can. We made it through winter didn't we? This year, and every year before that. Only once have we had to call in the army, and that was the doing of a single man who also expressed his fears of being boiled in a pot, and will soon be shunned out of office and his legacy stuffed into one of those little drawers full of things about which we will never speak again, like Uncle Frank's behaviour at the Christmas party of '93, and the hairstyle you proudly sported in your eighth-grade class photo.

Just because we can put up with it, doesn't mean have to like it. And, frankly, one of the reasons I live in a lovely place like Toronto, and not a place like Montreal, Ottawa, or Halifax - while they are each lovely in their own right - is so that I specifically don't have to put up much with winter after the end of March.

Just look at all the twenty-somethings, faces pressed against the glass of their windows, with a pained look on their faces while they wait for the snow on their patios to melt away so they can once again live out the Canadian beer-commercial dream. We all know Toronto only has two seasons - winter and patio - and we're anxious to get the second season started.

So please, help us out. Find Old Man Winter and send him back to the Home. We'll even give him the good seat by the Staring Window in the lounge, and if he's good, we'll let him stay up past 8:00 to watch Matlock.

Thurs, Apr 10, 2003

Hockey Ups And Downs

The Leafs somehow managed to win game 1 last night. They'll need to do much better, though, if they plan on taking game 2. 1 win down, 15 to go.

Somewhere between the end of the fall term, and the beginning of the winter term, our ball hockey league turned mean and chippy. In the fall, nearly every team played cleanly. We lost three games - including the playoffs - and each was fair and deserved. This term, we lost two games to the same teams that dealt us the losses last time, and then two games to teams that hacked, clutched, complained, and delayed their way to one-goal victories.

Last night was more of the same. Our opponent hacked, hip-checked, invaded my crease, and whined bitterly over a goal they claimed hit the post, and then got family in the bleachers to support them. That call-back forced the game into a tie, and a shootout - a terrible way to decide a hockey game. We lost the shootout 1-0, and once again went home wondering what happened to the honesty in a social-league game. The friendly game isn't so friendly anymore.

Thurs, Apr 17, 2003

Religious Thought

I am a practicing Catholic. I believe in God almighty, the Lord Jesus Christ, and so on and so forth. However, I will not deny that the institution of the Church clings to certain practices and ideas that are at best archaic, and at worst meaningless. Some of these have been under serious debate for many years, like the use of birth control, and women as priests, but my current beef-of-the-day is the ritual of Confession.

I may subscribe as a Catholic, but perhaps I would best be described as a generic Christian. I believe and follow in the fundamentals of Christianity - love God, love thy neighbour, and such - and then I find the rest pretty much derives from those. The specifics of who did exactly what to whom, how it was done, and what clothes he was wearing at the time really aren't that important. Does it matter if the true date of Christmas is December 25 or not, so long as it happened?

I have a similar view of ritual. The ritual itself is unimportant. It is merely a vessel for communicating an ideal or sharing a faith. The building in which we celebrate mass, the way in which it is celebrated, what day, or how often is unimportant, so long as you share your faith as a community and maintain the strength of that sense of faith within yourself.

Similarly, the idea of reconcilliation is vital to the Christian ideal. You should be aware of your wrongdoings, acknowledge them, reconcile them, and aim to use your mistakes to better yourself as a person. Settle those terms with yourself, with God, and with the people that you have hurt. That is why I find the common ritual of Confession so revolting. The institution that is the Church demands to me that I reveal my worst moments to a man who has nothing to do with the situation, and can offer little or no resolve to my troubles. Why must they insist on a holier-than-thou attitude where we must confess to them, for only they can grant us forgiveness? Why can I not talk directly to God through prayer? Do they suddenly suggest that God no longer listens? And what of the people that I may have wronged? For all they know, I continue to be careless of their feelings.

The true way to obsolve sin is to address it with God and with those involved. The current ritual leads only to long lines, tired priests, and frustrated patrons committing further sins while impatiently stewing over a wasted evening.

Tues, Apr 22, 2003

Leaf Mania

Game 7s bring about a tension like no other. The anticipation hangs about like a fog. The tension surrounds you like moving water, the currents drawing you to and fro, from one discussion to the next, all centred on The Game.

Hockey is the one thing this city rallies around without hesitation. It shows how great and how supportive Leafs' fans are. Through good times and bad, the Leafs never cease to enthrall us. Years of sold out games, non-stop discussion on the state of the team, ceaseless rallies of support, and - of course - fans like this.

As tonight concludes one of the tightest and most thrilling series seen in a very long time, it's never been a better time to be a Leaf fan.

Quote of the day: "All I want is a low-maintenance woman who puts out. Is that so much to ask?"

Wed, Apr 23, 2003


A 36-year hunger stretches to its 37th year, and the hopes of millions of Leaf fans are dashed once again. What was the most exciting and evenly-matched series witnessed in years ended in an ugly, embarrassing debacle, and for the first time in five years, the Leafs are out after the first round. I feel sorry for Eddie; he was the MVP of the series, and the team's defensive play left him abandoned and hung out to dry in the worst display of effort I've seen all year. They couldn't have picked a worse time to do it. Chalk it up to the fact that a third of the lineup was playing injured, or a player that abandoned the team when unity was needed most, or that the seventh game was played the day after a double-overtime match, or that every lucky bounce but one was in the Flyers' favour, or a headstrong GM-coach that refuses to give up one of his posts or bench certain unproductive players. Whatever the reason, the result is another year of dejection, and fans wondering why ticket prices keep soaring if the production does not. We didn't even get to see Gilmour's return; I hope he decides to stick around for one more year.

It would be easier if I just didn't care, or just shunned the team as a failure and watched cricket instead, but that's not the way a Leaf fan works. We regroup, pick ourselves up, and push on for next year. This loss isn't as tough as last year, which we should have won but for injury and exhaustion, or back in '93, which we should have won but for some God-awful officiating. I figured that this first round would be the toughest series of the playoffs, and the winner would go on to the Cup Final, so an opening-round elimination may be misleading of the team's potential. The Leafs took them to nine games' worth of play in a seven-game series, but couldn't muster the strength to compete right up to the end. Now it's time to rework the defensive lines, shed a few useless players, and get ready for next year.

Sun, Apr 27, 2003

Toronto Rocks

You can't stop the Rock! Can't stop the Rock!

I was at the Toronto Rock's semi-final game last night, and witnessed a solid 15-11 victory for the hometown boys, who now advance to the Champions Cup Final for the fifth consecutive year. We then went to a nearby bar and got to see some of the players up-close. I got to shake hands with the team's coach, and one of the cheerleaders waved at me! Ooo, I'm feeling faint...

I attended the game with a friend of mine, and after dinner we went to The Docks, where an old friend from high school - whom I haven't seen in about 5 years - was having her birthday party. When we arrived, we noticed very early that we were visible minorities at the club. A white guy and girl, conservatively dressed, among a sea of dark-skinned scantily-dressed hoochies. Hey, if we were going to find the birthday girl, we may as well be noticable, right?

Anyway, the music was crappy, and we didn't find my friend - as I had fully expected we wouldn't - but it was a very fun night all the same. Unfortunately, the Rock's final game will be in Rochester, and I will be away in Algonquin Park, but should our blue-collar heroes be victorious for the fourth time in five years, I will parade in celebration through the forest, attracting the interest of passing bears and rabid moose.

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