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Des plus brillants exploits

Ô Canada!
Terre de nos aïeux,
Ton front est ceint de fleurons glorieux!
Car ton bras sait porter l’épée,
Il sait porter la croix!
Ton histoire est une épopée
Des plus brillants exploits.
Et ta valeur, de foi trempée,
Protégera nos foyers et nos droits
Protégera nos foyers et nos droits.

Ahem.  Well, I don’t think it was a Game of the Ages.  Or a game for the ages, either.  But it was immensely entertaining.  And if you watched these Olympics and still don’t see why hockey is teh bestest game ever, even better than curling and the biathlon, I don’t know what to say to you.

For obvious (and entirely justifiable) reasons, everyone is going to remember Parise’s game-tying goal with 24.4 seconds left (and, I hope, the deft play by Patrick Kane that made it possible:  Kane was the USA’s offensive MVP of the night, and may eventually become the best American hockey player of all times), and the breathtaking, brilliant OT session that followed.  But the first 57 minutes of the game were not really all that thrilling.  The occasion was thrilling, sure—the final event of the 2010 Olympics, a rematch of a terrific prelim game, the latest installment in a serious rivalry.  But although the first 57 minutes were quick, physically intense, and tightly played, they were a little too tightly played.  We were treated to what’s called a “close-checking” game, and apparently everyone was prepared for it: in the pregame commentary, Eddie Olczyk predicted that the game would be won and lost in the corners, and he turned out to be exactly right (even though he didn’t say anything about the puck getting caught in an official’s skates, forcing Crosby to flick the puck down low to Iginla).  Me, I prefer a game that’s won and lost on the question of whether a team can skate through the neutral zone with speed, developing plays and creating open ice and passing lanes; but this game had no open ice or passing lanes, very few odd-man rushes, very little end-to-end action.  I longed for the freedom of the larger international rink; meanwhile, the USA and Canada played old school North American hockey, and they played it well.  It just wasn’t galvanizing—until Crosby’s breakaway and Kane’s furious, possibly-game-saving backcheck.  And then, two minutes later, Kane twisted to save a pass from Pavelski that had been deflected by Getzlaf, spun, sent the puck goalward, off Langenbrunner’s skate and into Luongo’s pads, and Parise put it in.

At which point the team that thought it was going to hold on to win a tightly-played one-goal-game realized that it was going to have to go to the locker room, sit for fifteen minutes, and then come back out and start the entire thing over from scratch.  1993-94 Rangers fans know what that’s like, having watched their team give up three last-minute goals to force overtime, two against the Devils (the second in game seven) and one against the Canucks (in game one).  Oh, yes, the 1993-94 Rangers themselves would know what that’s like, too.  It is excruciating.

Everything after that was just crazy land.  Up to that point, the game was huge because of the stakes, not because of the second-by-second thrills.  But the OT was edge-of-the-seat, second-by-second thrills.  Sudden death is like that.  And a twenty-minute sudden-death with four-on-four play is also like that, except more so.  I decided last night that it’s infinity times better than the five-minute OT, because I’ve watched way too many five-minute OTs in which neither team takes a chance for fear of making the fatal mistake that leads to a 2-on-1 the other way.  In this format, by contrast, players actually try to win the damn game instead of waiting out the OT to get to the shootout.  (I understand why the NHL has to keep it to five minutes, though.) And, of course, the four-on-four produced all the open ice I could have wanted.

In the end, it was exactly the right outcome.  Not only because Canada really was the just-slightly-better team, and not only because Crosby deserves this place in history, but also because Crosby’s goal saved us from decades of debates about the offsides on the first US goal and the Two Clanging Posts at the opening of the third period.  Had the Americans pulled this one out, erasing Canada’s two-goal lead and ending the Vancouver Olympics on a sour note for the home team, Canadians would now be talking about that offsides and those posts, and for obvious (and entirely justifiable) reasons, would continue talking about them forever.

And with that, dear readers, this weary blog is going on hiatus for a couple of weeks.  I have some news—I’ve been asked to serve as the next director of Penn State’s Institute for the Arts and Humanities, and I’ve accepted.  I don’t officially take the job until July, but I’m going to start meeting with people well before then, and that’s going to cut deeply into blogging time, for obvious (and entirely justifiable) reasons.  I’m not giving up the thing just yet—perhaps sometime later this year, after the Penguins-Blackhawks Stanley Cup final.  We will see.  In the meantime, I leave you with three important instructional videos.  First, one for you guitarists:

Then, another for you Karen Carpenter fans:

And finally, a different drummer:

See you around the Intertubes, everyone.  While I’m gone, don’t forget—The Editors have been back for a while now.

Posted by on 03/01 at 10:33 AM
  1. I agree entirely with the account of the game. I don’t watch much hockey. (I don’t watch any between Olympics.) I’d rather play it. But watching the Olympics--men’s and women’s--reminded me why hockey, though a great game, is not a great spectator game, especially on TV. Even with a new large screen HDTV, I couldn’t always follow the tiny black puck. Well, I could until it was shot. But in what other sport does the piece in play disappear at that crucial moment? Kind of frustrating. Even in baseball, you can usually track the pill on TV. And in what other sport does the structure of the venue obscure the piece in play (is there a generic term for this?) so much? When the puck’s along the camera-side boards, it’s entirely out of sight of spectator--even those who are present. So I’ll save my watching for events like these, that have historic significance.

    Posted by  on  03/01  at  11:54 AM
  2. Best of luck with the new position! I was worried that you had slacked off on your drive to be President of Everything, but now I see you were just marshaling your forces.

    And I love four on four hockey!

    Posted by John Protevi  on  03/01  at  12:33 PM
  3. I was worried that you had slacked off on your drive to be President of Everything

    I know, I know, I was supposed to take office in 2009.  Sorry—I fell behind.  What can I say?

    And Tom, good to see you, virtually!  About the boards—well, we need them, you know.  The game would suck otherwise.  I think they don’t station a camera on the opposite side of the rink for those puck-obscuring moments because it would be too confusing, visually.  And though I agree that hockey loses a lot in TV-translation, I find the new HD/large screen format very helpful.  The multiple-angle slo-mo replays are much better than they were 30 or even 10 years ago, as well—and they never fail to remind me that while we mortals can see some of that puck movement only in slo-mo, the best players in the world see it in real time ... and manage to tip or redirect slapshots just so into a corner of the net.  So I’m OK with those moments when mortals lose sight of the puck and only Hockey Gods can see it.

    Posted by  on  03/01  at  12:46 PM
  4. Well. I am usually pretty cynical about that patriotism and national pride stuff but I don’t know when the last time I experienced something like I did yesterday (1972?). The streets were deserted for 3 hours and then there were parties from coast to coast. Cars honking in the streets, flags a-waving. We kept getting shots of the places people were watching the game, from Sid’s home town in Cape Breton, to Gretzky’s bar in Toronto (with NDP leader Jack Layton showing a LOT more enthusiasm than Harper, who was actually at the game beside Wayne), to our troops in Kandahar, etc. I have no fingernails left. My heart is just about back to normal but not quite. It was a pretty spectacular finish to a great couple of weeks for our athletes. And we did it against a worthy opponent.

    Posted by Clare  on  03/01  at  12:54 PM
  5. Given the known alternative--that blurry line that Fox used years ago--I’ll take losing sight of the puck any day.

    It remains true that hockey and baseball live are improvements on seeing them televised, while American football is designed for video. (Especially since there is less action in football.)

    Posted by Ken Houghton  on  03/01  at  12:56 PM
  6. I enjoyed the game immensely. It was a nice surprise to see Mike Richter jump out of the stands and pin the ref against the boards after the tying goal. Old habits die hard.

    Best of luck with the new Director’s position. Start wearing berets and ascots, and work on that power-crazed laugh. Pretty soon you’re going to need business cards the size of license plates.

    Posted by  on  03/01  at  01:14 PM
  7. Felicitations for the new gig. As time passes the polyrhythmic underpinnings of this blog expose themselves, even to those of us for whom waltz-2-3 is a stretch.

    In re: hockey, baseball, and media adaptability—the true experience venue of baseball may be a well-called radio broadcast over either TV or live viewing. Something nice can happen when a domain expert is forced to use words only to capture a real time event and baseball’s relatively leisurely pace certainly provides plenty of timely real time.

    Captcha: also. This has never been an either-or blog.

    Posted by  on  03/01  at  02:27 PM
  8. Congrats on the new power center, which I hope comes with its own secret lair.  Perhaps under your leadership, PSUIAH can finally vanquish its old foe, the Anti-Humanities and Arts League, which I assume is housed at Caltech.

    Posted by Gary Oxford  on  03/01  at  04:55 PM
  9. perhaps sometime later this year, after the Penguins-Blackhawks Stanley Cup final

    Mr. Answer Man? That you?
    regardless, Go Pens!

    a different drummer

    That’s for sure, but every time I try to march to him my feet get all dancey and tripped up.
    I understand that Coltrane had a similar experience.

    the true experience venue of baseball may be a well-called radio broadcast

    Almost agreed (I’d rather be in the bleachers).
    Vin Scully, in my view, is an artist at the level of, well, Coltrane.

    captcha: play, which of course applies equally well to all three.

    Posted by  on  03/01  at  05:50 PM
  10. au revoir mon ami, pour l’instant

    Posted by  on  03/01  at  05:54 PM
  11. I’ve been asked to serve as the next director of Penn State’s Institute for the Arts and Humanities, and I’ve accepted.

    O noes! Whatever will happen to the Dangeral Studies Department now?

    Posted by  on  03/02  at  12:29 AM
  12. O noes! Whatever will happen to the Dangeral Studies Department now?

    Apparently you are unfamiliar with “embrace and extend."*

    Perhaps under your leadership, PSUIAH can finally vanquish its old foe, the Anti-Humanities and Arts League, which I assume is housed at Caltech.

    Nah, Caltech has the usual branch of the Meh to Arts and Humanities Guild, but that’s all.  The Anti-Humanities and Arts League shares space at Regent with the Death to Science Squad and the Leviticus as Constitution Knitting Circle.

    Start wearing berets and ascots, and work on that power-crazed laugh. Pretty soon you’re going to need business cards the size of license plates.

    “Start”?  “Work on”?  “Pretty soon”?  You obviously need to drop by the Professor’s seminar this term.

    We kept getting shots of the places people were watching the game, from Sid’s home town in Cape Breton, to Gretzky’s bar in Toronto (with NDP leader Jack Layton showing a LOT more enthusiasm than Harper, who was actually at the game beside Wayne), to our troops in Kandahar, etc.

    Well, here’s hoping that this is a tenuous indication that the hockey win and the medal count won’t actually wipe prorogation from people’s minds.

    Posted by  on  03/02  at  11:12 AM
  13. The analysis of game strikes me as spot on, except I don’t know that Canadians would bitch all that much about the offsides. It didn’t strike me as having all that much to do with the play. We might bemoan hitting the pipes, but that’s the game, eh?

    Does the new job come with minions? enforcers? Where does one send one’s cv?

    Posted by  on  03/02  at  02:39 PM
  14. What the original French lyrics actually mean:

    O Canada!
    Land of our ancestors,
    Thy brow is wreathed with a glorious
    garland of flowers.
    As in thy arm ready to wield the sword,
    So also is it ready to carry the cross.
    Thy history is an epic
    Of the most brilliant exploits.
    Thy valour steeped in faith
    Will protect our homes and our rights
    Will protect our homes and our rights.

    So take that, Anglophones!  YOU may come from far and wide, but this is the terre de nos aïeux!  YOU may be looking into the future with glowing hearts, but WE look back at une épopée des plus brillants exploits!  YOU may be heading off into the True North, but WE are going to stay close to nos foyers, thank you very much. And YOU can stand on guard all you want, but don’t you forget that Canada is prepared to porter l’épée AND la croix for US!

    Do other bilingual countries have such a split-personality national anthem?  Maybe I should go over to Crooked Timber and ask about Belgium.

    Posted by  on  03/02  at  07:25 PM
  15. And just for the record, Canada was the first fully developed nation to officially apologize for its record of mistreatment of the first nations population (albeit also one of the four who refused to sign the UN Treaty accord).  Thus the four chiefs at the opening and closing ceremonies; not to mention that they now have provinces specifically set aside for indigenous peoples.

    Posted by  on  03/03  at  12:50 AM
  16. I’m not giving up the thing just yet—perhaps sometime later this year, after the Penguins-Blackhawks Stanley Cup final.  We will see.

    Just so long as you’re back in time to re-animate the fetid, putrid corpse of Mr. Answer Man in time for the AFC/NFC Championships games the the Super Bowl.

    What, too soon?

    captcha: best, as in, All the

    Posted by  on  03/03  at  03:49 AM
  17. I’m not giving up the thing just yet—perhaps sometime later this year

    Make the most of your offsides time, MB.  You’ll always return after a hiatus, right?  (Groan-worthy references to puckishness and penalty box deleted).

    I know squat about hockey, but watching that game with you would have been an exciting educational experience.

    Posted by  on  03/03  at  06:38 AM
  18. but watching that game with you would have been an exciting educational experience.

    And you might have learned something about hockey as well!

    Posted by  on  03/03  at  11:20 AM
  19. The dogass Sabres deserved to lose last night for not setting up the Crosby-Miller rematch (actually more understandable than the Pens “resting” Fleury). Apparently Miller got a standing ovation when they announced the Olympians pre-game (and Crosby a few groans when they replayed the winning goal just before announcing him).

    Just went to the IAH website, I think I recognize that house from a George Romero movie. (But apparently it has subsequently been remuddled and some manner of college campus has grown up around it.)

    Posted by  on  03/03  at  11:22 AM
  20. They (IAH) also still have the solicitation for applications and nominations up. But of course it’s not as if things like that can be changed with just a click of button.

    (Lest I dissolve into a pool of pure snark, congratulations and good luck. We look forward to the Institute producing things like boarding tips from Maya Angelou.)

    Posted by  on  03/03  at  11:31 AM
  21. Clare @ 4:  We kept getting shots of the places people were watching the game, from Sid’s home town in Cape Breton, to Gretzky’s bar in Toronto (with NDP leader Jack Layton showing a LOT more enthusiasm than Harper, who was actually at the game beside Wayne), to our troops in Kandahar, etc.

    Down with Canadian imperialism!  Canada out of North America!

    Chris @ 6:  It was a nice surprise to see Mike Richter jump out of the stands and pin the ref against the boards after the tying goal. Old habits die hard.

    Yeah, Mike’s still got it.  Weird that the ref in this game was Bill McCreary, just as it was 16 years ago.  He’s gotta be getting tired of this kind of thing.

    Gary @ 8:  Congrats on the new power center, which I hope comes with its own secret lair.  Perhaps under your leadership, PSUIAH can finally vanquish its old foe, the Anti-Humanities and Arts League, which I assume is housed at Caltech.

    Don’t pay attention to that puckish JP @ 19—the Institute is in fact housed in a volcano with my face carved into the side.  In my initial year as director I plan to launch the “Alan Parsons Project.” And Caltech isn’t in our conference, just fyi.  The real challenge will be Texas, which has a formidable new Center for Making Connections Between Things and Other Things.

    Patrick @ 13:  Does the new job come with minions? enforcers? Where does one send one’s cv?

    We prefer the terms “associate henchmen” and “assistant henchmen.” Your cv should be addressed to Institute for the Arts and Humanities, Secret Lair, University Park PA 16802, Attention:  Number Two.

    Bloix @ 14:  So take that, Anglophones!  YOU may come from far and wide, but this is the terre de nos aïeux!  YOU may be looking into the future with glowing hearts, but WE look back at une épopée des plus brillants exploits!  YOU may be heading off into the True North, but WE are going to stay close to nos foyers, thank you very much. And YOU can stand on guard all you want, but don’t you forget that Canada is prepared to porter l’épée AND la croix for US!

    I like this, I like this, but as you well know, Bloix, the French song came first—long before there was any “national” “anthem” to be sung in Toronto—or Kandahar.  So those daffy English-Canadians actually had a competition to come up with an English version (not a translation!), and they’ve been tweaking it since, like, 1920, because the original “winning” entry went something like this:

    O Canada, our home and native land
    True patriot love thou dost forsooth command
    O Canada, we stand on guard, we stand on guard for thee
    On guard we stand, O Canada, we stand on guard for thee
    O Canada, glorious and free,
    We stand on guard, we stand on guard for thee
    O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.

    Even English-Canadians eventually found this repetitive.  I mean, enough about the damn Mounties already, right?

    O-Girl @ 16:  Just so long as you’re back in time to re-animate the fetid, putrid corpse of Mr. Answer Man in time for the AFC/NFC Championships games the the Super Bowl.

    I do have a syringe of glowing lime green Gatorade at the ready, yes.  Thanks for asking.

    Romy @ 17:  watching that game with you would have been an exciting educational experience.

    Indeed, it would settle once and for all the question of just how loud I can tell when I really try.  I consider “that was offside, dammit” at 110 dB to be an important form of “critical” public pedagogy.

    Posted by Michael  on  03/04  at  08:13 AM
  22. I consider “that was offside, dammit” at 110 dB to be an important form of “critical” public pedagogy.

    I guess you really told ‘em.

    Posted by  on  03/04  at  10:14 AM
  23. Oh, we’re not going to start judging critical public pedagogy by its effectiveness now, are we?

    Posted by Michael  on  03/04  at  12:30 PM
  24. No, just by its typos.

    Posted by  on  03/04  at  02:48 PM
  25. I do have a syringe of glowing lime green Gatorade at the ready, yes.  Thanks for asking.

    Obviously, then, Stormcrow, you meant “hypos.”

    Don’t pay attention to that puckish JP @ 19—the Institute is in fact housed in a volcano with my face carved into the side.

    Given the technical impossibility of this in central Pennsylvania, I suppose it’s appropriate for a collection of PoMo relativists to have their own “culturally determined” lair geology.

    Anyway, Director, you apparently have a Yalie’s big musical shoes to fill.  Y’all keep up the fostering of excellence across boundaries, now, hear?

    Posted by  on  03/04  at  04:51 PM
  26. nothing to say but i had to use the captcha: bill

    Posted by Bill Benzon  on  03/04  at  08:38 PM
  27. Well, yes, the French is the original, but emotionally it feels like something in opposition.  The English is bluff, optimistic, generous, and dim-witted – like Dudley Do-Right! - the French is prickly, resentful, and insecure.  Who is threatening the rights of those that honor the ancestral faith?  Isn’t there a whiff of a hint that it’s les Anglais?

    It reminds me of the license plates of Ontario and Quebec.  Ontario:  “Yours to Discover.” Quebec:  “Je me souviens.” Says it all right there, doesn’t it?

    Posted by  on  03/04  at  08:46 PM
  28. Karen Carpenter is cheesy bad-ass.

    Elvin Jones is simply bad-ass.

    Posted by Michael Drake  on  03/04  at  10:25 PM
  29. That’s just not fair to Karen.  That drum solo encapsulates her entire career:  serious talent put to use in the cheese factory.  For that hideous, unbearable background music, Mr. Drake, is the music of fetid, putrid (and yet smiling!) corpses.  Just as Richard never avoided an extra dollop of cheese in his arrangements, that variety-show ditty takes Karen’s talent and produces something wince-worthy.  And there is a profound pathos in that.

    The English is bluff, optimistic, generous, and dim-witted – like Dudley Do-Right! - the French is prickly, resentful, and insecure.  Who is threatening the rights of those that honor the ancestral faith?  Isn’t there a whiff of a hint that it’s les Anglais?

    Yes indeed—I thought that was the reason why no one signs those last three lines (at hockey games, at least).  I assumed they were “protect our homes and our rights from that overbearing English majority.” I mean, not even Roger Doucet sang ‘em at the Forum.  And the French is not only prickly, resentful, and insecure; we’ve even got some cross-bearing in there.  Lotsa Catholic woo steeping that valour in faith, you know.

    Given the technical impossibility of this in central Pennsylvania, I suppose it’s appropriate for a collection of PoMo relativists to have their own “culturally determined” lair geology.

    They are mountains, dammit!  Do I have to say it again? Mountains mountains mountains!

    Posted by Michael  on  03/04  at  10:58 PM
  30. True patriot love thou dost forsooth command

    Yeah, so in the throne speech yesterday (quaint, I know) it was announced that the line “in all thy sons’ command” would be changed because it is not gender inclusive. I would love to sing this one instead.

    Posted by Clare  on  03/04  at  11:11 PM
  31. They are mountains, dammit!  Do I have to say it again? Mountains mountains mountains!

    And as can be gleaned from that selfsame comment thread: water gaps, not volcanoes.  If you knew how many lives were lost each year to reckless unlicensed geophysics ...  I’ve seen schist that would turn you white.

    Posted by  on  03/05  at  09:27 AM
  32. They are mountains, dammit!

    Yeah, I gazed at that low-hanging fruit for a while, but in the end decided that it would be unseemly to reanimate that discussion in something as unique and unprecedented as this “going on hiatus” post.

    Posted by  on  03/05  at  09:28 AM
  33. I’ve seen schist that would turn you white.

    Very gneiss.

    Posted by  on  03/05  at  09:29 AM
  34. "there is a profound pathos in that.”

    Only esoterically. Exoterically, there is only bathos - which, curiously, is reimagined as first-order pathos. (Truly, the Carpenters Very First Television Special is a vast ocean.)

    Posted by Michael Drake  on  03/05  at  10:51 AM
  35. I suppose the term mountain could apply, with a huge helping of generosity and mirth.  Alas, when your tallest mountain carries the name Negro Mountain one might wonder about the obsequious nature of place names.  I do think the oh so Canadian slang for those precipices fits here as well, “what a knob.”

    Posted by  on  03/05  at  09:58 PM
  36. Yeah, yeah, yeah, late to the party as usual this year . . . but four-on-four was hockey even I could follow!! I’m hoping the Canadians will continue on their winning ways, however, and get behind even a more complex (and political and equally anaerobic on occasion) team sport: http://velonews.competitor.com/2010/01/news/bauers-team-shoots-for-tour-in-2012_103323.

    Vive M. Directeur! And thanks for the fine summary of the game. The grasshopper will continue to snatch the pebble.

    Posted by  on  03/06  at  01:22 AM
  37. Hats off to Canada and our fairytale ending.
    With glowing hearts, we stand on guard for thee.

    Thank you for posting about the big game! It reminded me a bit of that Canadian classic: “Raccoons on Ice.”

    I will miss your blog in its hiatus, but hope to catch it as it reincarnates in the years ahead. All the best with your great new gig!

    Posted by  on  03/06  at  10:51 PM
  38. OTOH, Michael, you might take your new appointment as an excuse for writing a substantial blog post on why Menand got it all wrong about interdisciplinary work.

    Posted by Bill Benzon  on  03/09  at  01:36 PM
  39. Hmmm...I have a sneaking suspicion that the support of Sidney Crosby on this blog is so that Rags fans would never have to bow their heads in gratitude to the heroics of Zach Parise. wink

    Though I give you credit for stating that few will forget Parise’s goal - it’s almost as memorable as Zelepukin’s 7.7 seconds goal in ‘94.  And oddly enough, Crosby’s goal was not nearly as painful to watch as Matteau’s (there’s something likable about Crosby’s wide-eyed youth despite the fact that age 22 he’s already achieved every goal any hockey fan/player dreams of - outside of the HOF, and there’s little question he’ll be a shoo-in for that when the time comes). 

    Despite Crosby, I think that ‘94 Game 7 has a fair claim to the “Game of the Ages” title.  Though the ‘87 Canada Cup series was pretty thrilling - especially considering the context and the rare opportunity of having Gretzky and Mario on the ice together.

    Posted by James Morgart  on  03/13  at  08:08 PM

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