Tuesday, October 13, 2009

One More and, I hope, Last Shot at the Whiner

So intriguing that until the details of his league-record - there he goes again! - salary , there was no mention much less criticism of the Grating One in all the chicaneries swirling about the hapless Phoenix Coyotes. The ill fate of this perennial loser of the desert, was attributed to everything from a poorly located stadium to an intrinsic lack of fan base to global warming with never a mention of the G-man and his ill-matched insatiable monetary hunger and mediocre (at best) coaching skills.

Usually when any professional team comes up with middling to poor seasons year after year, muttering about the man behind the bench starts up and grows in volume until general management kicks the bum out. Of course, when the bum in question happens to have a financial and management interest in the failing team, it's a tad more difficult. And so, despite four years of missing the playoffs and utter silence - forget about trying to help in any way - about the various controversies over the team's fate amidst the Basillie-Bettman battle, Gretzky is heard from only and about when there's a chance that he won't get the full $8.5 million he's been patiently waiting for at the nigh-empty Phoenix trough. Now there's news that matters.

The hesitation one sees on sports pages to even now call a spade a spade and the Wayner a whiner, makes me wonder if the writers there are still semi-consciously afraid that even a fair, well-researched verbal "body-check" on Gretzky might summon forth the ghost of the one of the bully-boys, like Dave Semenko, who, shall we say, facilitated those record-setting years on the Oilers.

Okay if Wayne will now promise to do something useful with his remaining years - such as fishing off the dock at his cottage - and stay far from hockey in every way, I shall commit to him and my faithful readers, that I have spake his name for the last time.

Taking off the Tight Shoe

My late mother used to speak metaphorically of a man so deprived that his only pleasure was wearing shoes a size too small so he could feel the relief of taking them off once a day.
This strikes me as the the kind of feeling that those who bore witness to Stephen Harper's musical performance at the National Arts Centre must have been going through. Undoubtedly well-coached by his usual faceless handlers, the Prime Minister touched down among presumptive mortal enemies within the very bastion of cultured folks whose values and livelihoods his government has so long demeaned. With Yo-Yo Ma backing him up, it's hard to imagine anybody being so churlish as to not give Harper rousing cheers for his pluck if not, nay, definitely not for his talent.

Fair enough, but, as might be expected, the NeoCon pundits were at the ready: Charles Adler, arguably the new Right's fair haired boy du jour, went a little out of control, reading into the culture crowd's reaction, a lighting strike realization that Stephen wasn't really "scary" after all.

I prefer the theory of the tight shoe. Having had this mean-spirited minority Prime Minister for an unthinkable four years of culture-trashing, it probably seemed, if only for a moment, a pleasurable relief to see him acting as if he was really not so bad. Adler, seized the occasion to make the rather mundane observation that Harper was the kind of guy you just might bump into at the Canadian Tire store on a Saturday morning -- an unprofound criterion, since uncaught serial killers and, even more evil in Adler's world, Michael Ignatieff, might also need lock de-icer some frosty weekend and turn up along the CT aisles.

To such as Adler, let me reassure you: no one was fooled; the relief was momentary, and the reaction you saw, merely the classy graciousness that the despised "Downtowners"(Adler's term for what a couple of generations ago, his like-minded predecessor Spiro Agnew would have called an"effete corps of impudent snobs") are good at.

Learn something, Chuckie.