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Once again, a Merry Molochmas to you all

And now, finally, in the spirit of Glenn Beck’s immortal “The Christmas Sweater,” here is the long-awaited Tale of the Broken Hockey Stick.  It’s a holiday treat just for you!

I broke this stick on October 10 of this year, during the only game I played in the A league this semester.  (It’s been a rotten semester on the health-and-activity front.  I know what my New Year’s Resolution is gonna be!) I promise you that the explanation for its brokenness will be deeply boring and anticlimactic (except for the part about my physical and emotional attachment to this stick), but first I need to make it clear that in 40 years of playing hockey, I have broken only three sticks. Well, OK, I didn’t play at all between 1980 and 2000, so you’d think, well, there’s twenty years during which my chances of breaking a stick would be pretty low.  Except that I actually broke one of them toward the end of 1980, after I’d stopped playing for Columbia in late 1979.  Yes, I’ll explain that one too.  Indeed, this is really the Tale of the Three Broken Sticks.

But when I played youth hockey from 1970 to 1974, I outgrew my sticks before they could break; when I played pond hockey from 1974 to 1978 (my high school didn’t have a team), I only played a couple of times a year on the pond at Flushing’s Bowne Park.  Not until the end of my freshman year did I break a stick.  Here’s the back story.  Settle in!  This is the extra long version.

Columbia was a club team in the metro league, not an Ivy League squad, and we were a very casual kind of team.  We had to buy our own ice time from the Riverdale rink in the Bronx, so we only had four scheduled practices all year (!), and our roster consisted of nine or ten regulars and three or four guys of fair-to-middling talent who showed up every now and then.  We played tristate-area teams like Fairleigh Dickinson University and Manhattanville College and the New Jersey Institute of Technology, and in 1978-79, we were reasonably competitive but crazily erratic.  Even as a freshman, I was a first-line right wing; that would be impressive on a less casual team, but we were a pretty motley crew, and being high on the depth chart wasn’t very difficult because the depth chart wasn’t very deep.  I certainly wouldn’t have made the cut at any other Ivy League school, not having played competitive hockey for four years.  But I was still pretty fast, and I still had a quick, accurate wrist shot, and I actually wound up leading the team in goals (though not in points, because I only had 11 assists to go with my 16 goals).  And we were an “exciting” team, in the sense that we could go from abysmal to impressive and back within a single period.  For example: in our opening game that year, we trailed Stony Brook 2-0 after two periods.  During the second intermission, our coach (unpaid, of course, a former goaltender for the team) reminded us that all we needed to do was to score once in the next five to ten minutes to change the character of the game completely.  We nodded, tapped each others’ shin pads, headed back onto the ice—and promptly gave up two more goals on defensive lapses.  Down 4-0 with ten minutes left, we suddenly got on our collective horses and closed the gap to 4-3, and I tied it with thirty seconds left when my center dished me a beautiful neutral-zone pass and I scored on a split-the-defense-at-midice breakaway. 

We muddled on like that until January, when suddenly everything changed.  Which is to say, the roster changed: it was the Time of the Arrival of the Football Players.  Now, Columbia’s football team back then wasn’t any more impressive than our hockey team, but the four football players we picked up in January had distinct advantages over the rest of us.  Being dual-sport athletes, they weren’t our most fluid skaters, and in fact one of them boasted the nickname “Grinder.” (And thinking back on it now, I can’t believe they were allowed to play club hockey after football season was over.  It was a different time, I tell you.) But goddamn, these guys were in shape.  We went from a two or two-and-a-half line team whose forwards logged 25 or 30 minutes a game to a full-three-line team whose forwards logged 20 or 22 minutes a game—and now some of us had real muscles.

I don’t remember exactly what our record was when the football players joined us; I only remember that after they did, we handily beat the John Jay School of Criminal Justice and then went on our biggest road trip of the year, down to Annapolis to play Navy.  Navy, as you might have heard, is a branch of the United States Armed Forces, and their hockey team practiced every day and played in a 5,000-seat rink.  (Riverdale was a rink with three or four tiered benches, all of which were completely empty for our home games.) This would be our only taste of Real Big Deal Intercollegiate Competition all year, and we were psyched.  And we had football players!

We came out flying, and after one period we led 3-1; I’d assisted on two of those goals.  Navy was unquestionably the better team, but we exploited all three of their mistakes, and when we got back to the locker room we were feeling pretty good about ourselves.  We could also hear Navy’s coach, in the adjacent locker room, screaming bloody murder at his team for losing to a bunch of dope-smoking, latte-drinking pantywaists from Columbia.  OK, it was too early in the cultural matrix for “latte-drinking” to be used as an epithet.  But my Moloch, what a lot of yelling was going on over there!  It worked, too: Navy came out determined to crush us like bugs, and sure enough, after ten minutes we were down 4-3.  And then came the highlight of my brief collegiate career.

My left wing caught me streaking across the middle of the ice in our own zone, and hit me mid-stride on exactly the kind of play on which I’d tied Stony Brook: through the neutral zone, split the D, breakaway.  Except that this time, I was hauled down by a stick across the ankle as I crossed Navy’s blue line.  And you know what that means: penalty shot!

Well, it’s one thing to have a penalty shot.  It’s quite another to have a penalty shot as a member of a casual club squad that doesn’t have any fans at home but happens to be playing in front of 5,000 midshipmen on the road.  What drama.  All eyez on me!

And all eyes really were on me, too.  Both teams retreated to their benches, and the arena grew eerily quiet.  But when the referee gave me the nod and blew the whistle, and I picked up the puck at center ice and skated in, the place erupted—and then when the puck jumped off my stick and started rolling on end just as I came in over the blue line, the place collectively screamed, “ooooooh, you are so toast!  you’re not even going to be able to deke our goalie or control your shot!” Believe me, I know that’s exactly what the crowd noise meant, because they really did yell like crazy when the puck tipped up on end, and I really couldn’t deke their goalie or control my shot.  I was moving quickly, because I think forwards should challenge goaltenders on penalty shots instead of coming in leisurely-like and allowing them to get set, but now my speed was working against me: I tried twice to slap the puck flat as I came in, but to no avail, and I realized about thirty feet out that I would have to go to the goal with the puck I had, not with the puck I wanted.  So I opened my stick blade and feinted like I was going to try to flip the damn thing over the goalie’s left shoulder; the goaltender went down to smother the shot; and I somehow corralled the unruly puck, slipped it over to my backhand, and snapped it over his right shoulder, off the crossbar ... and in.

Just like that, we were tied, 4-4, and I had quieted five thousand midshipmen all by myself.  My team greeted me at center ice as if we’d won the Championship of the Universe.  It was deeply gratifying, which is why I remember it so vividly to this day.

And we lost the game, 11-4.

But that’s not the point of the story, because it doesn’t involve any broken sticks. I’m just trying to set up the whole entire Alice’s Restaurant context here.

The point is that after our trial-by-Navy, when we showed ourselves that we could play with a real team for about half a game, we came back home and proceeded to run the metro table.  We won five in a row, qualified for the playoffs, and beat our first two opponents in the single-elimination tournament.  But then we had to face Nassau Community College, an institution that may not have been able to compete with Columbia in the U.S. News and World Report rankings for latte-drinking but boasted a big, fast hockey team that had gone 19-0-0 to that point in the Metro League season.

Two nights before the NCC game, a bunch of seniors showed up at my room.  They had come over to smoke dope and listen to Elvis Costello’s Armed Forces—and to deliver a message.

“Michael,” said our goaltender, who resembled Shaggy from Scooby-Doo in many respects, “you’ve gotta ...” deep inhalation ... “understand.  See, we’ve never even made the playoffs, dude.  You don’t get it, you just got here, you don’t realize that we’re supposed to suck.” Another long toke.  “I mean, seriously, like we sometimes won two or three games in an entire season.”

“Yeah, Bee-Ruby,” said my left wing, “this is basically our last fucking chance, man.”

The rest of the conversation proceeded in that vein. [Note to my children: you know I’ve spoken to you about this before. Lots of people my age smoked dope back then.  The first couple of times, it really did lead to a higher plane of insight and enlightenment, and we began to listen to the amazing bass line of “Nowhere Man,” which is, like, totally contrapuntal and mindblowing even though criminally undermixed.  Then we went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and stood in front of this painting for fifteen minutes.  (I later wrote a paper about it in which I claimed that it was just this far from pointillism.  My professor disagreed and gave me a B minus.  But I still think my point about the breakdown of color and line was pretty obvious.) After that, we slowly—too slowly, I admit—realized that marijuana eventually led not to a deeper appreciation of life and art but to Cheech and Chong movies.  But what can I say?  I told you we had a “casual” hockey team.  In March 1979, this meant, among other things, “a hockey team whose seniors would get together to pep-talk their scoring-forward freshman while zoning out and getting high.”] And at the end of it, after everyone had stopped talking in awe of the total and complete awesomeness that is Mr. McManus’s rendition of Nick Lowe’s “(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love, and Understanding,” I realized two things. One, that the team’s not-football-playing seniors had actually descended upon my room to tell me how much our next game meant to them, and two, that I had scored only one goal in the seven games since that penalty-shot boo-yeah against Navy.  Clearly, it was time for me to step up.

But I didn’t.  Oh, I played well enough, for a freshman: I hustled to the puck, I covered my man away from the puck, I didn’t turn over the puck when I had it, and I even blocked a few shots.  But I did nothing on offense.  We were up 5-1 on an undefeated team, and I had had nothing to do with any of our five goals.  NCC fought back and made it 5-3, but they couldn’t climb all the way back from a four-goal deficit.  Our seniors (including our goalie) played an inspired game, and our football players played like the game meant the world to them, and my indifferent-but-not-incompetent play did not matter to the outcome one way or another.

And then, the next day, the football players left.  Why they had to go, I don’t know, they wouldn’t say.  It apparently had something to do with “spring” “break,” a concept none of us understood, since MTV had not yet been invented and Daytona Beach was still a destination for NASA astronauts out for a weekend spin.  (I experienced four “spring” “breaks” from 1979 to 1982, and I always looked upon them as opportunities to pick up more work hours.  Did I go “home” for “spring” “break”?  Did I go on “vacation”?  Please.  Is the Pope an Afrocentrist?) All we knew is that we would be playing in a bizarre round-robin finals with three other teams, double-elimination style, and that we would face Queens College in the semis with all of eight hockey players.

Against Queens, our best defenseman inexplicably threw an on-ice tantrum at the end of the first period and earned himself a game misconduct, so we played the final 40 minutes with seven players.  We lost decisively and embarrassingly, 8-4, and once again, I had nothing to do with any of our goals.  At this point, my drought/ slump/ utter failure was Getting Inside My Head, and lest you think this is some kind of sports cliché, here’s precisely what it means for a scoring forward like me: ordinarily, one confronts a goaltender, one tries to assess his weaknesses, one dekes or shoots for the open twine.  But when one is in a scoring slump, that last stage gets way too complicated.  When it’s time to shoot for the upper right corner of the net, say, your scoring-slump forward sees sixteen distinct hemi-semi-quadrants, and figures (given his rotten luck of late) that the goalie will manage to nab any puck in the thirteen closest to him.  Your hapless forward therefore shoots for the three most remote hemi-semi-quadrants, and ... he shoots wide.  Or, even worse, he hits the post, as I did in the second period of our elimination game, down 2-1 against Fairleigh Dickinson.  I picked up a rebound five feet from the net, picked my corner, thought a bit too much, narrowed it down to the three most remote hemi-semi-quadrants, and ... clang!

So this is how I broke the stick.  With eight minutes left in the third period, still down 2-1, we were scrambling around FDU’s net, and from 15 feet out, I lifted a backhand over their goalie’s glove and into the net.  Woo hoo!  We were tied, my scoring slump was broken, we could still make the finals, and ... wha?  I saw the referee at the goal line pointing to the faceoff circle to the left of the net.  He should not have been pointing to the faceoff circle to the left of the net.  He should have been pointing directly into the net, signifying that a goal had been scored.  But lo!  The puck was not in the net.  The goaltender had scooped it out of the net with his glove, and was pretending, with a shit-eating smirk on his face, that he had made the save. And the ref was buying it.

Please understand this moment.  It is not as if we are talking about Brett Hull’s famous no-goal in the 1999 Stanley Cup finals; and it is not as if the puck slithered across the goal line so sinuously that no one could tell whether it had cleared the line completely.  There was nothing ambiguous about this goal. It hit the twine. It hit the twine hard.  Everybody in the arena saw the puck hit the twine, including that goddamn goalie ... except the referee responsible for determining whether a goal had been scored.  That guy, who clearly had not been watching the game at all, devoting himself instead to adjusting his toupee or checking out one of the FDU girlfriends in the stands, was now indicating that the faceoff would take place in Fairleigh Dickinson’s zone, as if their goaltender had made a legitimate save.

I had raised my stick over my head when the puck went in (you know, the way hockey players sometimes do when they score), but when I saw the referee pointing to the faceoff circle instead of signaling “goal,” I slammed it to the ice and yelled “that was in,” whereupon two things happened: the stick shattered, and the ref gave me a two-minute minor for unsportsmanlike conduct.

At which point I lost it.  Everything from the past two months—the slump, the seniors’ pep talk, the departure of the football players, and now the loss of my only stick (I couldn’t afford a backup; these things were twenty dollars apiece, mind you)—came crashing down with the stick, and I proceeded to toss my gloves and helmet into the air, almost as if I were about to re-enact Michael Ontkean’s stripping scene from Slap Shot.  And I cast aspersions on the referee himself, as well, uttering sundry calumnies about his immediate family members and his sexual practices.  That little routine earned me a game misconduct (our second in two playoff games!), but I didn’t care, because (a) there were only eight minutes left, (b) the referees were clearly not going to allow us to score, and (c) I had no stick.  And that was not all, oh no!  That was not all. The rest of the team (all seven of them, plus our coach!) had erupted in protest as well, and by the time I had been ushered off the ice, we all had been given some kind of penalty.  We played the rest of the game shorthanded and completely demoralized, and lost 7-1.

And that is the story of the First Broken Stick.

I eventually bought a new stick and returned to the team in the fall of 1979, but it wasn’t the same.  The seniors were gone, the football players were playing football, and we had only eight players.  Six of us were pretty good, and we managed to go 3-5-1 in the first half; I had 18 goals and 8 assists, and I think I was near the league lead in scoring.  Then I got mononucleosis.  I missed the second half of the season ... and never played collegiate hockey again, except for one game in the fall of my junior year when we played Stony Brook in the Nassau Coliseum in front of nobody and lost 16-2.  I had one of our two goals.

So how did I break the second stick later that semester?  Like so.  It was early December, December 8 to be exact, and I had decided, during an end-of-semester study break, to clap on the headphones and give the recently-released Double Fantasy LP a good serious listen even though I thought “(Just Like) Starting Over,” “Woman,” and “Watching the Wheels” were pretty weak sauce. (“Beautiful Boy,” by contrast, is a lovely, gossamer song.) I figured I owed Mr. Lennon and Ms. Ono that much.  In the middle of “I’m Losing You,” one of my friends burst into the room and shook me by the shoulder.  When I took off the headphones (with some annoyance), he told me that John Lennon had been shot. “Very fucking funny,” I replied, wondering how he knew I was listening to Double Fantasy and putting the headphones back on.  “No, really,” my friend insisted, “somebody shot John Lennon.” We switched off the stereo and put on the radio; within minutes we learned that John was dead, murdered by one of those evil three-named lunatics.  Naturally, I took my hockey stick, lying dormant in a corner next to a bookcase, walked down the hallway to the stairs, and broke it over the banister.  That helped.

And that is the story of the Second Broken Stick.

The third broken stick is the only stick I did not break in anger.  A teammate sold it to me over six years ago (a $150 stick for only $100), and my first time out with it, in a B-league game on September 23, 2003 (I keep records of these things, you know), I scored five goals.  It felt like everything went in.  I proceeded to score about 200 more goals with the thing, and occasionally I even picked up an assist or two, usually when someone put in a rebound off my shot. (I missed almost all of the 2007-08 season, as well as the first half of the 2008-09, but played often and well in spring 2009 and hit a couple of personal milestones.  A story for another time, perhaps.  Ask me about the time I scored a goal just like this one, except at one-quarter the speed, in a beer league, and against a hungover defenseman.) And then on October 10, I showed up for an A game against the Blues.  The team captain asked solicitously if I was in game shape, and I said I really didn’t know; I had spent six weeks doing physical therapy for my pinched nerve (you remember the pinched nerve), and I wasn’t sure I could play at all.  But I contributed here and there: coming in on a 2-on-2, my left wing shot me a pass deep in the Blues’ zone; their defenseman was draped all over me, doing the stick-under-the-ribs thing, but as I headed for the net, I did the my-stick-over-your-stick-under-my-ribs thing and redirected the pass up over the goalie’s left shoulder and into the far corner.  A few minutes later, I sneakily emerged from behind the Blues’ net and redirected a shot-pass just inside the post. I was old and slow and out of shape, but I had two goals.

Then, with the score 3-3, I found myself on the off wing as we cycled the puck down low.  I sent a pass to a linemate in the left corner and broke for the net in an ad hoc give-and-go; he sent it back to me, and I had myself a clear shot from 10 or 12 feet out.  “I’m gonna give us the lead and get myself a hat trick,” I thought as I cocked my wrists and ... my stick fell apart in my hands.  It didn’t shatter, it didn’t go snap!, it just kind of ... gave up and disintegrated.  No impact at all. Obviously, I had to toss the shaft (playing with a broken stick is a two-minute penalty), and head back to the bench for my backup stick (because now I can afford one of those).  We eventually won 6-3, but I was sad, because I’d had that stick for longer than any other, and because it had craftily tipped in two goals just before disintegrating, and because I did not smash it to smithereens because of a lousy call or the senseless murder of a great musician.  So I took the broken pieces home and photographed them, and now they are immortal, joining the infinite pixels of the Internets.

I’ve played a B game and a couple of Tuesday night Old Guys games since then, and even though I still manage to score every once in a while, it’s weird how not-right the backup stick feels.  It’s like walking with your right foot in your left shoe and vice versa.  So last week I stopped into Eddie’s and got myself a brand new stick for Molochmas.  Can’t wait to try it out in the new year!  But I will still miss the old one.

As for blogging in the new year, well, we’ll see.  I’m not sure whether I should just fold this old tent (again!) and take my act to Crooked Timber full-time, or hang around a bit longer, post on an even more half-assed schedule (perhaps a hemi-semi-assed schedule), and see whether this thing blows up (again!) when the visitor meter goes past 9999999.  Advice welcome, as always. 

While I ponder this question, here are some white guys playing bossa nova- and mariachi-inflected songs.  Nimble and melodic guitar solo in the latter, great for a cold winter’s day.

Have a very merry Molochmas and a happy new year, everyone!

Posted by on 12/23 at 01:06 PM
  1. Interesting.  Richard Steinberg told me much more positive stories about the club team, but he left out having to go to Da Bronx--sorry, Riverdale--for practices.

    Have a Merry Molochmas, and may all your hockey sticks be light.

    Posted by Ken Houghton  on  12/23  at  03:35 PM
  2. A lovely story.  Opinion and request: please keep this blog going.

    Posted by Steve Muhlberger  on  12/23  at  03:56 PM
  3. Broken hockey stick ==> global warming is a hoax.

    And happy holidays to all!

    Posted by  on  12/23  at  04:34 PM
  4. a gunner, eh?

    Posted by  on  12/23  at  04:54 PM
  5. Broken hockey stick ==> global warming is a hoax.

    Thothdammit, that was going to be my quip!  Curse your sudden, yet inevitable, betrayal, christian h.

    As for blogging in the new year, well, we’ll see.

    I beg of you, Professor: continue here, even if only in a dilatory fashion.  This is the blog where I know a fair portion of the inside jokes.  It’s like home: a place where that one cousin of indeterminate gender frequently shows up to produce embarrasing pronouncements, the same tired japes, and hackle-raising odors.  Which could practically be my c.v.

    Anyway, as Chuck Norris keeps saying, in effect:  Happy Judeo-Christian Anniversary of the Birth of America’s Only True God.*

    *Even though the original precursor of the dollar doesn’t appear to have been first minted in December.

    Posted by  on  12/23  at  05:18 PM
  6. Yes, we beg of you, professor, continue here. Don’t leeeeeave us.

    Posted by  on  12/23  at  05:59 PM
  7. $20 in the mid-70s in this part of the world purchased 5 or 6 cases of mass produced aluminum canned beer. (A cold six pack was $1, small discount for warm, small discount for bundling two or three hangovers into one trip to the liquor store.) In real beer terms sticks One and Three represent equal losses.

    As to the future of this fine blog my selfish interest is that it never close. My attention here has been rewarded with wide range of sincere and articulate thought, sometimes provocative, always interesting, often addressing topics that are otherwise unremarked by everyday life.

    I imagine that this undertaking looks and feels a lot different viewed from the inside. When the pain of preparation dominates your impressions it is time to look at the options, perhaps longingly.

    Captcha: then. When things worked gracefully, without seeming effort. Contrast now.

    Posted by  on  12/23  at  06:37 PM
  8. A triple feature well worth the wait.

    “ ... in the sense that we could go from abysmal to impressive and back ...”

    And here I thought that meant erratic or somewhat unstable - now I can just tell people I’m “exciting” -thanks.

    Merry Molochmas to you and yours and as far as continuing here -sure win an election and desert your base ... seems to be a trend wink

    Posted by  on  12/23  at  07:50 PM
  9. Please, keep American airspace open.  Our country needs you!

    Posted by  on  12/23  at  08:16 PM
  10. Thank you for the epic journey through the wonderland of broken sticks.  Inflation seems to be indicative of the wackiness of wage/price indecencies; from $20 to $200 in 30 years is a bit much. 

    As for the other matter; please keep showing up here at least occasionally.  Thank you; that is all.

    Posted by  on  12/23  at  08:44 PM
  11. The story of *the* broken stick plus two others (with bonus “where I was when John Lennon was shot"), almost the promised story of “the goal I scored that was like Malkin’s”, and a year-ending contemplation of shutting up ye olde blogge. All covered in slightly less total words than Infinite Jest! This is the Internet that Chris Matthews will never understand. Never!

    Posted by  on  12/23  at  09:42 PM
  12. Thanks the Tale of the Three Sticks, but I don’t like the ending when you start to consider closing this blog.  I’ll bribe you with private Met visits to check out some more paintings if that will help keep you around. Where else could we go to find Jamie, hockey, and great writing? Happy Festivus!

    Posted by  on  12/23  at  11:30 PM
  13. What the hell is “Crooked Timber” and why would I ever want to go there? You’re starting to remind of one of those incredibly interesting people who live in San Francisco until they decide to move back to where they came from or to Maui or to Texas because they fell in love with somebody there, but then they return, and everyone is happy to see them back in town, but then they leave again. This is another way of saying that this place is special, and it’s a ridiculous amount of work and energy and there’s no money and it probably actually works against a lot of your actual professional interests, but it’s important. Please continue.

    Posted by sfmike  on  12/24  at  02:36 AM
  14. Jeezus fu*k, Michael! Have you seen how long this post of yours is? Damn, some of us aren’t elitists with jobs that offer vacation time allowing us the leisure to read long-ass rambling posts.

    The good news (since you asked, thanks) is that on Monday night I finally found a clinic in my area that will see patients who don’t have insurance. One more day and I would have been in the emergency room and probably a hospital stay for sure.

    But having finally gotten the medical attention I needed, and with the medication kicking in, I at least have the stamina and focus to read this damn thing, if not the time because I have to, you know, work. So I’ll try to get around to it within the next few days and gripe at you some more at that point. ‘Tis the season, afterall.

    May the Blessings of Gojira and the Spirit of the Giant Nuclear Fireball be upon you all!

    Posted by  on  12/24  at  03:18 AM
  15. Oaktown Girl: Look at this post, what a lengthy post, have you seen this post?
    MB: Yes! I wrote it!

    Posted by  on  12/24  at  12:08 PM
  16. I think you should blog alternate Fridays at my joint. I would be willing to change the blog’s tagline to “Writing and photography from the Mojave Desert and elsewhere plus Dangeral Studies and hockey.”

    Posted by Chris Clarke  on  12/24  at  05:02 PM
  17. Well JP, I just thought saying, “have you seen” sounded less pretentious than “have you contemplated “ or “have you reflected on the length of this post?”. But clearly you’re just another damned elitist who prefers that kind of haughty talk.

    Posted by  on  12/25  at  02:58 AM
  18. But Michael, if you pack up your blog, where will you respond when Erin O’Connor calls into question your ability to serve the MLA due to your position on health-care reform?

    Posted by  on  12/25  at  04:25 AM
  19. Damn straight Oaktown, I’m ambiscrupulated and you should be too. Oh, and greetings and salutations upon the day.

    Posted by  on  12/25  at  10:08 AM
  20. Jeff, I don’t think Ms. O’Connor is upset about my position on health care reform.  I think she’s upset that I used a term adopted by the Tea Party Patriots, possibly because she is mistaken about its origin and common usage.

    The person who is upset about my position on health care reform seems to be the commenter named “John,” who apparently is too busy and/or angry to read all the way down to comment 11, where I explain that when I said everyone and her brother favors a single-payer system, “I was, of course, referring to the vitriol coursing through left-liberal blogistan.” I believe that John used to be a Democrat.  But when he found out that I live in a leftist bubble, he got really outraged that the government was going to take over his Medicare.

    I only hope I survive this scandal, which appears to be even more grave than the great D. Ho. controversy of aught-five.

    But I am going to a very merry Molochmas party now, and I hope you are too.  Joy to the world, people.  Remember, Moloch is the reason for the season!

    Posted by Michael  on  12/25  at  02:30 PM
  21. Damn straight Oaktown, I’m ambiscrupulated and you should be too.

    Chicka-Wow Chicka-Wow Wow!*

    Remember, Moloch is the reason for the season!

    I thought it was Judah Maccabee.**

    And did you know that this is the first time I’ve ever typed “michelberube” by mistake, and ended up at that musician’s home page?  I hope that’s not an omen of some sort.

    *See “the same tired japes” above.

    **This is the sort of thing I’d like to say to Chuck Norris whenever he’s blathering about how mandatory celebration of the birth of the Savior is a crucial part of America’s Judeo-Christian heritage.  Whereupon he’d roundhouse kick me clear back to Hasmonean times.

    Posted by  on  12/25  at  10:49 PM
  22. I’m sorry but I’m not sure what ambiscrupulated means in this context. It doesn’t sound pleasant. Perhaps when ambiscrupulate googlistifies I’ll be able to follow along. Or maybe I should upgrade to the Premium Google™.

    Posted by  on  12/26  at  11:36 AM
  23. Lovely molachmas music. and a happy new year to you, too, Michael, and to your wonderful family.
    Captha: Father. How about that?

    Posted by Hattie  on  12/26  at  06:28 PM
  24. I want to make a Glenn Beck sweater joke so badly right now. But when I type those three words together, I’m too grossed out.

    We’ll all join you back here or @ Crooked Timber in ‘10, sir.

    Posted by cattyinqueens  on  12/26  at  09:36 PM
  25. By the way is it true that this blog constitutes the US section of the Fourth international - Posadist? (The Posadists split from ISFI over the question of supporting nuclear war… “After the apocalypse - socialism”.)

    Posted by  on  12/26  at  11:52 PM
  26. And dear professor, now that you have acquired the electoral votes, can you please tell us if we are to say “Twenty-Ten” or “Two Thousand-Ten” in four short days?  Inquiring minds need to know these details if we are to navigate our way through the quagmires already underfootrasberryosadist?

    I have been doubting recently whether you actually support Molochmas or just use that as a euphemism for some other celebration.  I would hate to be a head ‘case’(captcha), like Heidi.

    Posted by  on  12/27  at  06:36 AM
  27. Note to future historians of the long-form blog post: this is the first one that took me two sittings to read.

    Note to present company: not that I’m complaining or anything, as the length seems integral to the theme. 

    I take it this marks the second breaking of the blog, so we may get another chance.  In 20 years.  Actually, Michael, as long as you take the Jamie posts with you, a full move to CT can only improve the place.

    Posted by  on  12/27  at  04:00 PM
  28. Saw Avatar in Real-D last night. It had been the subject of an on and off week-long argument between my kids. Nobody’s mind was changed by seeing it a second time. My take is that everyone is right (including MB and everyone who has commented on it here).

    Remember, Moloch is the motive for the votive.

    Posted by  on  12/27  at  07:41 PM
  29. So, my son is doing his Common App college application, and he’s trying to write the “tell us about yourself” essay, and he says to me, “I can’t do this!  What am I supposed to do, tell them how great I am?  It’s so lame!” So I say, read this broken hockey stick story and then we’ll talk about it.

    He reads it, comes back and says, “That is so funny!  That is so, so funny!” “Yes, it is,” I say.  “But look at what he’s doing.  Is he telling us about himself?” “Yes!” my son says.  “Is he bragging?” I say. “Yes!  Well, no.  But yes!” he says.  “Is it lame?” I say.  “No!” he says. “That’s how you do it,” I say.  “But he’s so honest!” my son says.  “Yes, you need that, too, “ I say.  “I could never write like that!” he says.  “That guy is a beast!”

    And that’s what I say, That Michael Berube, he’s a beast.  Whether he keeps writing this blog, or decides he’s served up enough free ice cream for now, that guy is a beast.

    Posted by  on  12/28  at  12:35 AM
  30. What Bloix said. We demand more free ice scream from the Beast!

    And “Three Sticks” is the best bit of hockey writing this side of Ken Dryden or Red Fisher since Roch Carrier’s “The Sweater”

    catchpa-Zebra, as in “You brainless, eyeless fucking Zebra, which game are you watching? That puck was in!”

    Posted by rev.paperboy  on  12/28  at  09:25 AM
  31. “That guy is a beast!”

    The beast that ran the MLA.

    On Avatar, saw, though only in 2D. Lotta Miyazki imagery there, mostly from Princess Mononoke, Castle in the Sky, and Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind.

    Posted by Bill Benzon  on  12/28  at  09:58 AM
  32. Yes, free ice cream from the Beast, even on a hemi-semi-assed schedule, is still free ice cream from the Beast. You can’t beat that.

    Posted by  on  12/28  at  01:07 PM
  33. I’m afraid I must insist on hemi-semi-demi-assed.

    Posted by  on  12/28  at  02:00 PM
  34. I’m afraid I must insist on hemi-semi-demi-assed.


    Is it acceptable to eat ice cream with a demiasse spoon?

    Also, Chris Clarke made a reference to Miyazaki recently, too (which I resolutely resisted making a pun about).  Is he now officially Super Cool?

    “That’s how you do it,” I say.

    Except I think that college application essays are supposed to be shorter than this.  Which, I hasten to add, is not even remotely a criticism of “H. E. Triple-Hockey-Sticks’ Bells:  The Michael Bérubé Story.” I demand that the bloggery continue, irrespective of length.*

    *Yes, this is self-inflicted petard-hoisting at its finest.*

    Posted by  on  12/28  at  03:10 PM
  35. Is it acceptable to eat ice cream with a demiasse spoon

    No it is not acceptable to eat ice cream with a demiTasse spoon.  Good lord man, what were you thinking.  Ice cream, even free, deserves the perfect tablespoon. 

    And i can see the movie now: The Beast that Ran the MLA! In 3D Imax-sized portions of bewildering spectacle.

    Posted by  on  12/28  at  06:17 PM
  36. More appreciation, this from someone who was raised in the Deep South with the word “hockey” being primarily a euphemism.

    We all scream for ice cream.

    Posted by  on  12/29  at  07:06 PM
  37. Dear Michael,
    I enjoyed your story or should I say legend of the broken sticks, but there is one thing missing.  Any good Canadian lad knows the story of the Hockey Sweater which involves (importantly) a broken stick. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IJlilwLlBhg Nevermind that other sweater link you included- that’s not for real hockey players, real hockey fans. Signed http://www.thehockeyambassador.blogspot.com

    Posted by Nicholas  on  12/31  at  11:02 AM
  38. Is this blog like dead or something?

    Posted by  on  01/01  at  01:05 AM
  39. JP, I believe it was established some time ago that this is not a Dead type of blog.

    Hockey, cultural studies, Jamie, liberal rhetorical leftists at war, and the occasional graphic novel by Chris Clarke is what type of blog this is used to be.

    And more’s the pity.

    Posted by  on  01/01  at  11:34 AM
  40. Now, wait, JP.  You actually stopped by a few minutes after midnight on New Year’s Eve?  Goodness gracious.  I don’t know what to say.

    Anyway, the blog is very much alive.  As I will proceed to demonstrate.

    Posted by  on  01/01  at  12:37 PM
  41. I don’t know what to say.

    How about, “Sucks to be you” or somesuch. Of course by “you” I mean me, since *you* are doing the speaking I am “you”. It’s kind of liking going through the windowpane.

    Actually it was a wonder that I was up at all.

    Posted by  on  01/01  at  01:34 PM
  42. Actually it was a wonder that I was up at all.

    Well, based on this latest comment, I’m wondering whether you’re up yet.

    Heeby Noy Yahr.

    Posted by  on  01/01  at  03:20 PM
  43. Michael, it is important for you to keep on blogging here, so that you will have an outlet for the writing you want to do when you are procrastinating on the writing that you are SUPPOSED TO BE DOING. Like um like ummmmm setting up exercises!

    Posted by OVERLADY  on  01/01  at  04:43 PM
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  46. Those dam graphite hockey sticks! ehhh!

    Posted by Charles  on  03/29  at  06:26 AM
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  48. How about, “Sucks to be you” how long does it take to get a passport dj How to Get a Child Passport
    or somesuch. Of course by “you” I mean me, since *you* are doing the speaking I am “you”. It’s kind of liking going through the windowpane.

    Posted by  on  02/07  at  10:24 PM
  49. But having finally gotten the medical attention I needed, and with the medication kicking in, I at least have the stamina and focus to read this damn thing, if not the time because I have to, you know, work.sometinghwhatis jh somethinghow df forumlogs
    So I’ll try to get around to it within the next few days and gripe at you some more at that point. ‘Tis the season, afterall.

    Posted by  on  02/07  at  10:28 PM
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