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July 31, 2007

The last day of July is upon us and then we enter into the dog days of summer. My wife and boys are busily making lists, packing, shopping -- well, Laura is at least -- for their departure to Cape Breton very early on Thursday morning. Chris is especially pumped about the annual pilgrimage to Nova Scotia. For him, this is the real start of summer.

It's no walk in the park for my talented wife, who continues to work while away, she just does it from Cape Breton instead of Oakville for a few weeks. But as she says, it's better to do it there where the boys can be with their grandparents and cousins and aunt and uncle, than to do it here, while most of their friends are away.

I'll join up with them later -- the empty house doesn't bother me much as I tend to work longer when there's no reason to hurry home and I'll get a lot done.

Every family has rituals and one of ours has become the week we spend literally on the beach in Ingonish, NS, up in Cape Breton Highlands National Park (just google the park and then click on images). We rent the same small cottage every year. We know the quirks of shopping at the only tiny supermarket in the village (romaine lettuce comes in only on Tuesday) and we eat a lot of hot dogs and hamburgers. You fall asleep to the crashing waves and you wake to the crashing waves.

And the best part is -- no offence to family -- is it's just the four of us. There are friends and family who pop in for a day, but it's pretty much so far out of the way that popping in just doesn't work -- it's a 90 minute drive to Sydney, and more than five hours to Halifax.

The sandy beach at the bottom of our doorstep is several kilometres long and on a busy day there might be 50 people sprinkled along it, though most days it's far fewer. On clear nights -- and there are many -- we lie on our backs on the beach and count shooting stars. A night sky unpolluted by city lights is a wonder to behold. It's a solitary place where a good book replaces 500 channels of drek, the ocean and beach replace PlayStation and GameBoy, and all the frayed family wiring worn thin by 12 months of the things we all do seems to get fixed up just fine.

Anyway, we're excited to be going there again. It never gets old, and the place never changes. On either side of the Beach Week there will be a trip to Halifax to see my family, and time spent with Laura's family in Ben Eoin.

Truth be told without going into gory details, we've had better years than 2007 and we're looking forward to a change of scenery for a bit. And then we will arrive back for the rat race of southern Ontario, batteries recharged for another winter of Ranger hockey and MOHA house league, and new beginnings and adventures.


July 31, 2007

I told you that Hawks PW 1 goalie Ben Neeb was my hero because of his play on the weekend to help propel his team to the Ontario lacrosse provincials. Not to mention that he has one of the greatest smiles you'll ever see.

But don't just take my word for it. Read this.


July 31, 2007

Blog traffic right now accurately reflects that many of you have lives -- it's down about 50 per cent from the peak months of January and February. But it's also up about double over July 2006. So, I'll continue to periodically update this spot and hope you find something funny here to read.


July 30, 2007

What a weekend.

First, the PW Hawks squeaked through to make the Ontario Lacrosse Association A division finals in three weeks hence. The lost Sunday morning to Clarington, leaving them needing a win or tie against Halton Hills, a daunting challenge to say the least.

Fate intervened when Akwesasne upset Mimco, which triggered a big logjam where all the tiebreakers went Oakville's way, thanks to their strong play Friday and Saturday. So the Halton Hills game became a moot issue, Oakville would qualify.

FYI, the Hawks came within 30 seconds of upsetting Halton, but settled for a 5-5 tie. Good luck to those boys at the finals. Ben Neeb is my hero.

- - -

My very good friend John M. has three talented and personable sons, one of whom is a key member of the PW Hawks. Rhys plays lacrosse the way it was meant to be played -- intense, hard but fair, physical but clean. The term "pressure on the ball" is to lacrosse what forechecking is to hockey. Reese is the epitome of pressure on the ball.

Anyway, some men of a certain age sit in a quiet corner and ponder things like their own key to the Playboy mansion, or perhaps winning a lottery. John spent the weekend pouring over a spreadsheet with game results, calculating every possible scenario for his kid's team as games on other floors ended. Because John's fantasy was to see the PW Hawks -- a team that had to appeal to be included in the "A" division playdowns --  make it through to provincials. I'm afraid to think what might have happened if they had hung on to beat Halton Hills.

- - -

Now, Pad and the bantam Hawks were 0-8-1 heading into action Sunday, comfortably alone in 12th spot among 12 teams challenging for six provincial final spots. They were skedded to face Nepean -- who we expected to be competitive with -- and Whitby, whom we didn't.

Much to the shock and horror of the bantam Hawks, they learned that Nepean had actually won a game on Saturday, meaning a loss would leave Oakville a distant 12th.

To their great credit -- and much, much credit to the effort of Ryan Adams, who played his guts out all weekend -- the Hawks beat Nepean 4-3 to avoid going winless in their 11 games over two weekends.

That set up the final match vs. the home team, Whitby -- perennial lacrosse powerhouse which needed a win to move on to provincials.

As one dad said to me: We have to play Whitby, in Whitby and Whitby needs to win. I don't like the odds.

We're not really sure what happened in the first period, but before anyone knew what was what, goals by Patrick Arnold, Mack Hulbert and Adams had the Hawks up 3-0. Another goal in the 2nd made it 4-0 and suddenly you could smell the chance of an upset.

Anyone who watches lacrosse knows a four-goal lead against a good  team is about as safe as a snowball in a sauna and the lead evaporated to 4-2, then 4-3. But we were still in it, despite losing Adams to a shoulder injury.

Late in the third, Whitby got called for too many men on the floor with the goalie pulled. Much ranting and raving from their bench and two coaches were tossed. The upshot was we got a penalty shot and Tyler Albrecht -- the team's leader, most talented player and a kid who was throwing up his guts in between shifts 24 hours earlier -- buried a goal, making it 5-3 with about 1:20 left.

Whitby never quit and closed the gap to 5-4 with about 40 seconds left, but that was as close as they got and the Hawks finished with two straight wins, 2-1-1 over their final four games and all the misery of the 0-5-0 weekend two weeks ago was happily excised.

Their season is over now, but eliminating Whitby and beating Nepean was a great cap to a journey that had more than a few peaks and valleys since the team was selected in an ice-cold rink back in April.

All the kids played great Sunday. Hard work leads to success but it doesn't matter how much a coach preaches that message, it's a lesson the kids have to learn for themselves. On Sunday, they finally seemed to get it. Class dismissed.

- - -

At one point Sunday, I was standing in the parking lot of a Motel 6 baking in the relentless sun, watching six or eight of the Hawks throw a ball around while the din from the nearby traffic on the 401 made conversation impossible. Whitby may not be Paris, but it has actual parks and a lakefront and things like that. I called Pad over. Pal, you can stay here on the pavement and throw a ball around if you want, but this ain't my kind of fun. I'm leaving. He grinned and followed and we went off to find a more bucolic setting.

In short order, being the sad losers we are, we were back at the Iroquois Sports Complex watching more lacrosse.

- - -

In less than a month, all the Oakville Ranger teams are back on the ice. I can't speak for everyone, but some time between now and then, my family is going to have a Nova Scotia vacation that will not involve a trip to a field or a rink or wearing Under Armor or booking time at BTNL or a sports medicine clinic or a physiotherapist. There will be family and beaches and camp fires and smores and fresh air and a good book and actual conversations with my wife and kids and sleeping in and staying up late and watching the boys play with their cousins and golf and swimming and not uttering the words rep or Rangers or Hawks or MOHA on OLA or GTHL or Early Bird or Silver Stick or ANY OF THOSE THINGS. Well, maybe a little. Regardless, there are deep fried clams in my future. I can't wait.


July 28,  2007

Just checking in after getting home from Whitby for a bit of colour from the provincial lacrosse qualifiers. As expected, the Oakville Hawks bantam 1 Hawks continue to face some challenges -- they lost a pair of two-goal games Friday (either of which they could have won), tied Hamilton today and then lost a blow out to Halton.

But the reason I'm interrupting our Saturday night ritual of perogies and Ukrainian folk dance lessons is to tell you about the peewee 1 Hawks, who are on a big roll.

Riding the hot, hot, hot goaltending of Ben Neeb, the cannon-stick of Jackson Hulbert and the big hearts and big efforts of every other kid on the team, the PW1 squad that entered the weekend 3-4 have gone on a 4-0 run against some of the top teams in the province and now need just one win to get through to the provincials. This is a pretty stunning turn of events, because the team was originally seeded as a "B" team and appealed that ruling to get assigned to the "A" loop.

Peterborough, Whitby, Guelph and Orangeville all were tossed under the wheels of the PW1 bus this weekend - - leaving Clarington and Halton tomorrow.

I really can't say enough about the play of Ben Neeb. He was simply outstanding and was the Oakville Hawk of the day, in my estimation.

Most of the bantam Hawks turned out to watch the PW squad play Guelph in the afternoon and the promptly sat among the Guelph fans, cheering loudly for three little brothers and everyone else, and there was plenty to cheer. When Hulbert the Younger turned his hat trick -- I think his fourth of the weekend -- they tossed their caps on the floor and even the ref smiled.

Every kid on that team deserves to have personalized words written to recognize they opened up their veins today and bled Hawk blue. Since I don't know them all, I can't do that. I'll just say this:

Good luck to the PW Hawks tomorrow. Like the commercial says, JUST DO IT.

- - -

We went to The Simpsons movie between games Friday. I was not blown away. Three stars out of five. The kids had mixed opinions, too. D'Oh!


July 26, 2007

It's my dad's birthday today. Everything I know about kids and coaching and the joy of a good game came from my dad. The Canadian Hockey Association should have a picture of my dad on a wall with a spotlight on it at its head office, because he is the ultimate hockey dad.

There was never a morning too early, or too cold, or snow too deep to keep us from the rink. And where we lived, the rink was a long drive away. My dad coached me, then turned me loose into rep hockey under the guidance of others, but he was always there. He got me to high school basketball, and track meets, and endless other things. As I have come to learn, always being there is a job unto itself.

I played a lot of hockey and I know my hockey ate up resources in a household that didn't have a lot of extras. And I know my sisters watched a lot more hockey than they should have had to. But some of the greatest memories of my childhood came on the ice, and even now years later my dad and I will trade stories -- many of them actually true -- about what happened then.

We talk on the phone almost every night -- I fill him in on what we call "the scores and highlights" from Chris and Pad, and he complains about the Blue Jays' pitching.

My late Nanny Arnold always said my father was born on the hottest day in the history of Kentville, N.S. I hope it's cooler today in Nova Scotia, and that the cake is good. Save some for us -- we'll be home soon!

Happy birthday.

- - -

Sergio Garcia may one day win a major golf tournament. But after losing in a playoff on the weekend to Irishman Padraig Harrington, the moody Spaniard seemed prepared to blame just about everyone for his loss except himself. I'm no expert, but from what I saw (and sadly, I watched from 8a right through to the end some seven-plus hours later), Sergio was the guy standing on the 4th tee with 15 holes to play a four shot lead. Sergio missed the putt on the 72nd hole to win. Sergio bogied the first playoff hole. One of the first lessons you learn in journalism is that you can't hide from a mistake. You can own up to it. You can correct it. And you can learn from it. But you can't hide from it -- eventually it will come back to bite you. A pretty good story by AP's terrific golf writer, Doug Ferguson, summarizes that maybe Sergio needs to learn how to lose before he's ready to win.

- - -

The Canadian Open begins today at Angus Glen in Markham. Someone asked me if I was going to go.

Um, no.

Standing joke in our house is, if I can't walk to the Canadian Open in 15 minutes or less, I'm not going. Now, next year, when the Open is back at Glen Abbey (little more than across the street), count me in.

Pad and I were there in 2004 when Vijay Singh beat Mike Weir in a playoff -- in fact, this morning we were able to spot ourselves on TV in the crowd in a highlight package from that event.

But driving to Markham and then parking a long way from the course and then taking a bus to get to the course and then fighting the traffic when the time comes to leave . . . well, that's not my idea of fun.

But me and Chris and Pad will all be there next year. See you then!

- - -

The way things are looking, this will be the last weekend of bantam 1 Hawks lacrosse. The boys have six games in three days and pretty much need to win every game to have even a whisper of a hair of a thread of a shred of a chance to get to provincials. Given that some of those games are against some fairly elite competition, it will be a challenge.

However, as John Belushi famously roared in the movie Animal House, "did we give up when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor? NOOOOO!"

So, neither will the Hawks go quietly in that good night. There's a reason why they play the games, so the boys will hump it down the 401 to Whitby and hopefully, work like hell.

Go Hawks Go.

- - -


July 24, 2007

Two funny things from the weekend, the punch lines of both are somewhat inside baseball stuff:

-- First, Pad logged on to MSN the other day and thought he was chatting with one of his teammates from the Rangers last winter (tall defenseman whose name rhymes with Munden.) When in fact, he was chatting with the guy's mom! While this situation presents all sort of opportunity for hilarity and fun, apparently nothing like that happened as my ever respectful son didn't say or do anything stupid before realizing he was talking to a friend's mom. Oh well. Maybe next time!

-- Second, there were five rabbits in my back yard Friday night. You could hardly walk to the barbeque without setting on one of them. Frankly, that many rabbits in my yard is starting to creep me out. Where's a slingshot-armed Oakville Hawk bantam when you really need him?


July 24, 2007

Long time, no blog. Sorry. I was ill yesterday and what follows is some of what I did while lying on the sofa and watching a lot of PBS and The Discovery Channel. Today's epistle is on game officials. Hot in the news are the men and women in the stripes.

- - -

A few thoughts about referees and game officials in general. We can't play the games without them and for what they get paid to do the games, it's basically volunteer work.

Except at the pro levels, where major league officials make very good money to generally do a very good job.

If you haven't heard the the name Tim Donaghy, you are going to soon. Donaghy is an NBA referee -- soon to be former, I'm sure -- at the centre of a very messy scandal. It is alleged that an NBA ref bet on NBA games and conspired with gamblers to pass on information about NBA games. It is alleged that guy is Donaghy. Other allegations get far, far messier.

This scandal has the potential to be gigantic and NBA commissioner David Stern will have a lot of questions to answer, fundamentally 800 different versions of "what did you know, and when did you know it?" If the league let a referee continue to officiate at the same time they knew he was the subject of an FBI investigation, that would fall into the general category of "Not Good."

This is a pretty good overview of the story here. Stern is expected to hold a news conference in New York today.

- - -

Closer to home, news of an incident at a minor soccer match that leads you to despair for the odds of the human race surviving long enough to worry about global warming turning my home high in Glen Abbey into lake-front property.

A mom at a semi final game in Pickering is alleged to have accosted a referee and an off duty police officer. A woman and her husband are charged with various offences. Mmmmm. Classy.

Here's the kicker (no soccer pun intended.) The kids in the game were competing in a U-eight division. That's UNDER eight years of age.

And the ref -- a young woman -- is 14. Read the story in today's Star here.

No doubt, if convicted, these people will get no significant penalty under the law -- and I would not necessarily advocate one either.

But what I would advocate is the Ontario Soccer Association and/or their local associations telling them to take a hike for three to five years. Drop your kids off then go sit in the car. You're not welcome at the venue. If you enter the venue, it's an automatic forfeiture of the match.

Will that happen? Don't count on it. Generally, provincial governing sports bodies will try to find some sort of less confrontational way to deal with an ugly issue (ie: bury their heads in the sand and hope it won't happen again.)

Big local associations with large registrations that send a lot of dollars to provincial governing organizations have a lot of clout. It stinks, but it's true.

So far this lacrosse season I have personally attended more games in three months where parents have been ejected than I have seen in all the previous games in all sports in all years COMBINED. I was at a game that was stopped after two periods because a parent is alleged to have threatened the life of a referee. Is there any indication that the Ontario Lacrosse Association is addressing it? No. None.

- - -

As regular readers know, I have a young referee under my roof. But just as significantly to me, several other young men I know have also put their toe into those waters. These are kids that I have coached at various times over the past seven years, or driven to practices, or find sitting in my family room playing video games, or working on school projects with my kid, or whatever.

As new referees, they have much to learn. That they will make mistakes is an obvious fact, but only slightly more obvious than the fact that all referees make mistakes, from veterans to rookies.

But for a 39-year-old mother to accost a 14 year old referee -- aside from being monumentally stupid and completely indefensible -- also helps undermine the future of the sport.

Because without referees, you can't play the games. And if you abuse the referees, whatever incentive he or she might see in doing that work (and it IS work) for $12 quickly disappears and one suspects the urge to shove one's whistle down the throat or up another orifice of an over-bearing parent or coach might become overpowering.

As a volunteer who has convened house league lacrosse and hockey divisions, I have (twice) asked a house league parent to ease up on the refs (both times in lacrosse, and neither time in a game where my kids were involved.)

Once I was met with the very witty "what are you going to do about it?" To which I replied with the equally witty "I won't let the game start till you shut up or leave." At that point, after which other parents within earshot usually start telling the offender to clam it, peer pressure looks after things.

But 13 year old boys and girls don't often have the confidence to stare down a coach or parent that way.

So, the next time you're at a game an find yourself on the ref's back more than usual, close your mouth, count to 30, and then leave your mouth closed. It's sort of a different take on the old poker rule: if you're at the table for 30 minutes and can't figure out who the sucker is, then you're the sucker.

If you're at a game where the fans are more unruly than normal, and you can't figure out who the loud-mouthed jerk is, then you're the loud-mouthed jerk.

If verbally abusing kids turns your crank, go get help.

Because one of the big challenges facing minor sports at all levels is getting kids interested in officiating, and then getting them to return after their first year. The drop-out rate is high. And if you're one of those people who rides a ref, you're part of the problem.

* -- Disclaimer: I've yelled at my share of refs in my time, though never abusively. Over the past three years, I've toned it down considerably after realizing that a) the refs don't care what I think, and b) there's no graceful way yell at a ref, especially if it's a kid.


July 20, 2007

After practicing on Monday night and then doing their weekly dryland session at Beyond The Next Level on Tuesday, Pad and his lacrosse team had the rest of the week off. But since Pad also referees, he was scheduled to do a game Wednesday night and then volunteered to do two more Thursday night after a hole opened in the schedule.

So, I come home from work Wednesday night and tell him I'll take him -- no problem. I like watching the games, or I can run to the grocery store, or whatever.

Laura tells me the game is at Glen Abbey ("They're always at Glen Abbey, right?") and off we go.

I pull into the parking lot and Pad looks at me. "Dad, I'm pretty sure the game is at Maplegrove." It's 6:50p, the game starts at 7p.

For those non-Oakville readers, Maplegrove Arena is at the literal other end of town. You can't be in a rink parking lot in Oakville that's further away from Maplegrove than Glen Abbey is.

So I quickly call "They're Always At Glen Abbey Right" Laura who checks the calendar and then confirms that the game is at Maplegrove. It's now 6:51p.

We traveled down Third Line to the QEW at what would be considered a brisk pace. We then lit up the east-bound QEW (thankfully traffic was light) and pulled into the parking lot at Maplegrove at 7p on the dot.

The game started on time, but only because former OMLA president and current referee Brian Kruse was in the house and he subbed for five minutes while Pad got dressed.

No harm done. Moral of the story: check the calendar.

Last night's game were at Glen Abbey and the journey was much less eventful. And I watched the Tyke and Novice 2 home teams both lose, the first to Mississauga, and the second to Halton.

- - -

This weekend, I don't think we have any scheduled sporting events. Not sure what we'll do -- maybe start a weekend sports league.

- - -

Since posting his silly Warcraft video on Youtube a couple of days ago, Chris's directorial debut has been viewed.53 times.

- - -

It's that time of summer again. Calls are being made. Conversations are being held. Arm twisting, cajoling, begging. Yes, minor hockey house league coaching and convening assignments are being pondered right this second. It's tough to think about in July.

- - -

For those of you who worry about such things, the roof on the new rink at Glen Abbey still leaks, and new boards are being installed on the old rink at Glen Abbey, which is pretty much ripped apart right now.



July 18, 2007

I'm not sure exactly how he did this, but sometimes it's fun to realize your kids have talents beyond sticks and pucks and balls and skates.

Chris (who's 10) is a fan of the World of Warcraft game, which we allow him to play in moderation. He is also proving to be very adept with a computer, and he recently completed a digital imaging program at Sheridan College, and he plays guitar and likes music.

So, all of these interests have collided and the result is a video he posted on YouTube.

Like I said, I'm not exactly sure how he did it. But he got his friends playing Warcraft to make their characters dance, and he did the same thing with his characters. And then he used a piece of freeware he downloaded to video captured the various dance scenes, and then he used Microsoft Moviemaker to edit the clips, and he added Green Day's American Idiot as a soundtrack underneath the whole thing.

The result is actually pretty funny (especially the credits) and you can see it at

- - -

The Open Championship -- also know as the British Open -- starts tomorrow in Carnoustie, Scotland. The Open always means several things, including you can watch live golf on TV at 7a, that's it is really and truely summer, and that usually, I'm alone. That last point isn't true this year -- Laura and the boys haven't left for Cape Breton yet pending the outcome of lacrosse playdowns -- so they can get up at 7a on Saturday and Sunday and watch golf with me!

- - -

Did you see Roy Halliday pitch a gem of a game last night at Yankee Stadium? Did you see him hand the ball to closer Jeremy Accardo? Did you see the closer walk in the tying run in the bottom of the 9th? Did you see the Yanks win it in 10? Did you ask yourself why you bothered to watch? Sheesh . . .


July 16, 2007

A tough weekend for the Bantam 1 Hawks at provincial qualifiers, going 0-for-Whitby in five games.

The peewee Hawks fared somewhat better going 3-and-4, and I think the midgets had a decent weekend too.

The bantams knew going in things were going to be tough and they were. In two weeks we go back for six more games but the writing is on the wall now and the prospect of this team advancing to the provincials is not good. It would mean running the table in two weeks, and probably a lot, a lot, a lot of luck involving the others teams. And maybe some structural failure resulting in the odd arena collapse along the way.

- - -

Which isn't to say no one had fun. The following is the text of an email I sent to Laura around mid-day on Saturday. We had about three and half hours between games. What to do, what to do . . .

We're with Joel and Aleks, Dave and Chris, plus Will, Mac, Dylan and Michael.
Went to lunch at Swiss Chalet. There was a dessert incident. You don't want to know. Highlight was Joel telling Aleks to "back slowly away from the fork." The chocolate cake never had a chance.
Then tried to go to a movie, but didn't make it.
Then went to a park to toss balls around, air out gear and play dads vs kids.
Then it started to rain. Lucky for them because even though there were only three dads, we would have kicked their ass.
Back in car. Headed for bowling alley. Stopped at gun shop. Hung out with rednecks. Later learned that <one of the boys> bought cool but possibly deadly sling shot. We're all nervous but treating him respectfully.
Back in car. It's raining harder. Find bowling alley. We're here now. Much noise and hilarity. Bowling cures a lot of problems. Marcoun's bowling style can best be described as modified shot put.
I need:

- - -

Just so you know, the kid's very wise dad later confiscated the slingshot. The rabbits are safe for another summer.

- - -

We were playing at the Iroquois Sports Complex in Whitby which has 238 sheets. OK -- it has six, but compared to what you will find in Oakville, it seemed pretty impressive. Four of the floors are used for lacrosse and ball hockey etc in the summer and two have the ice left in. It was a nice facility with good sight lines, good concessions, lots of parking and it was close to the highway. Two major problems -- first, it was in Whitby. Second, the score board almost always showed Oakville bantams losing. Obviously a technical problem.


July 13, 2007

Happy Friday the 13th.

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Good parents of lacrosse playing lads will be trekking to Whitby today for the start of the provincial qualifying tournament that will take two weekends to sort out. I'll be working. Two July weekends spent in a rink in Whitby. Really, what could be better?

- - -

A few days ago (July 3, actually) I wondered out loud here about the sustainability of the NHL's new cost-certainty under the owner's hard-earned salary cap won during the year-long lockout a couple of seasons ago. A few days ago a guy who know way more about these things than me, Globe and Mail columnist Stephen Brunt, wrote about the same issue, albeit much more deeply and knowledgeably. You can read his piece here. This issue will become very, very large for NHL owners a lot sooner than they ever thought. And all of the old problems will be new again.


July 12, 2007

I know it's only July, but it's feeling like the dog days of summer. Hot, slow-moving days virtually devoid of blog-worthy material.

I watched much of the baseball all-star game the other night, that's how bored I was (good game.) I could rant about Barry Bonds, but I'll save that for another time.

Laura returned from PEI and didn't declare the house to be a complete disaster, which is less a tribute to my skills as a housekeeper than it is to the fact that me and the boys pretty much lived in the kitchen and the family room for the time she was gone, which made cleaning up easier.

Starting tomorrow, Pad and the bantam 1 Hawks start the provincial qualifiers for lacrosse -- 11 games in two weekends against the best bantam teams in Ontario. Twelve teams vying for six spots in the provincial finals. We'll keep you posted.

 -  -   -

Yesterday me and the boys went to see the movie Transformers. This one will be the blockbuster of the summer. Talk about an action movie, it makes Spiderman look like My Dinner With Andre. A guy movie for sure, this one is flat-out action from start to finish.

And, you'll never look at your portable stereo or your cell phone the same way again after seeing this sucker.

- - -

And yes -- the new illScarlett CD is now in stores. Run, don't walk, to get one. Below is the front page of iTunes on Tuesday, featuring (top left corner) illScarlett! Below that is the front page of from the same day.











































July 9, 2007

Single parenting is not for the faint of heart.

With Laura in PEI eating lobster and pretending to work, I'm the lone caregiver in the house and -- like you need me to tell you -- it's hard work.

Saturday we went to see the third installment of Pirates of the Caribbean (fun, but not as good as the first two) followed by swimming followed by delivered Swiss Chalet chicken followed by a lot of sitting around waiting for the kids to be ready to go to bed. Which is to say, I outsourced most of the caregiving on Saturday.

Sunday the weather sucked a screwed up plans to hit golf balls, but I did manage to get the boys over the neighbours' for a swim, and then I cooked ribs, which were outstanding, thanks for asking. Real ribs. Not pre cooked or anything.

Then we watched a high-brow film -- Talladega Nights: The Ballet of Ricky Bobby. It's a guy movie, for guy.

Today, the boys started the digital imaging camp at Sheridan, and I worked. This afternoon they had guitar lessons, and I worked. Chris had three on three hockey tonight and Pad had lacrosse practice. As I bang away on this we're watching the home run derby at the all star game, but I'm fading fast.

- - -

illScarlett's new CD, All Day With It, hits stores tomorrow. Go buy this disc. You'll be glad you did. The first single from the CD, Nothing Special, is at number 7 on The Edge Top 30. I never ask you people to do anything. But . . . support these kids. Buy their music. Have some fun.

- - -

Oh, BTW. On Saturday, in between activities and outings, we watched a fair amount of the Live Earth concerts. Snow Patrol is now my favourite band I've discovered this summer that doesn't have a family member it in. They sound a lot like Cold Play, but they're Scots, not Aussies. Their latest CD is Eyes Open. You can pick it up at the same time you're getting your illScarlett CD.

Guys, if you come home from work tomorrow with these two discs, you'll be heroes. Trust me. Tell your wife you heard the Snow Patrol song Chasing Cars and "it made you think of her." Your wife (and her friends after she tells them what a great, sensitive, deep, insightful guy you are) will start a new country and recite an oath of allegiance with your name in it.


July 6, 2007

The bantam Hawks lost 8-2 in Orangeville last night in their final scheduled game before provincial qualifiers.

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The weather forecast for the next few days is for it to be hot. Really hot. Hot, hot, hot. Hot as in 35 on Sunday without the humidex. With the humidex, it will be 85 degrees I think they said.

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Since the government made it possible to recycle containers from the LCBO (wine bottles, liquor bottles, coolers, etc.) we keep a bin in the garage for this sort of thing. Mostly it's wine bottles and coolers. Hard liquor almost never comes out at our house (I'm a beer guy). Anyway, the bin was getting full so Chris and I took it in last night. I explained how the system works and that we'd be getting money back.

"We're going to be rich!" he said. I wish.

So I said, tell me how much money you think we're going to get back. He guessed $50. Well, as anyone who has returned bottles knows, you'd better have a lot of bottles if you hope to get that kind of dough. ($50 would be about 21 cases of 24 bottles. We're not in that league. Yet.)

Anyway, I told him he was way high.

So then he told me to make a guess. I guessed $10, including two cases of beer bottles.

It came to $12.10. Which was enough for one large, blue slushy for Chris and two lottery tickets for me at the convenience store, with change left over.

We agreed it was time well wasted.

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Since it's summer, and since there's not much going on, and since it's going to be 35 degrees on Sunday (85 degrees with the humidex) here's a video of a kid doing a devastating imitation of President George W. Bush explaining how concerned he is about global warming. Enjoy you weekend. Stay cool.


July 5, 2007

In the smog-filled sweat box that is southern Ontario in summer, the only thing better than having your own swimming pool is having a welcoming neighbour with a pool. And the only thing better than that is when they're not even home but invite you to use the pool anyway!

We owe them. The forecast for the next few days is grim!

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Me and the boys will be hanging solo for a few days as mom's work takes her on the road east for a few days next week. I wonder how many lists she'll leave for me? Actually the lists are useful, especially when it comes to making lunches for the boys, who are in some kind of digital imaging camp or something at Sheridan College next week. There's no lacrosse this weekend, so the schedule will be clear. I'm hoping to watch some movies (!), maybe hit some golf balls, and do whatever the boys want. I'll be doing a fine balance of working from home, racing downtown, juggling conference calls, and being a dad. If you're sitting at home and here a siren, think to yourself, "Oh, they must be going to Greenbriar!"

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The seedings are out for the 2007 Ontario lacrosse playdowns and the bantam 1 Hawks have been placed in the A bracket, the highest division. This sounds cool, but the reality is they will be hard pressed to advance to the provincials from the round-robin playoff format that has Ontario's top 12 bantam teams playing each other over two weekends in fun-filled Whitby. Only the top six teams advance. We'll see. Meanwhile, the boys are in Orangeville tonight for an evening of lacrosse.

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If the Leafs could trade Andrew Raycroft -- now that even Stevie Wonder can see that Toskala is their number 1 goalie -- will they take a run at signing Peter Forsberg? Brendan Shanahan? Mike Comrie? Bill Guerin? Anson Carter? All are still available. Given my druthers, I'd take Shanahan -- a Toronto boy and former Mimico lacrosse star. But whether he'd want to play for the Leafs is another question.


July 4, 2007

Most people think of today as Independence Day, the US national holiday. I think of it as the birthday of my friend and best man, Hugh. And his wife, Deb. Birthdays on the same day. I always found that weird. Anyway, happy birthday.

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We interrupt regular sports programming for a musical interlude:

OK aging sports fans. Your time to be cool is near.

Next Tuesday, illScarlett releases their new CD, All Day With It. My cousin is the bass player. These guys are becoming a big deal and you have the chance to impress your kids by going out on July 10 and buying or legally downloading the new tunes.

FYI, illScarlett's new single, Nothing Special, is now number 11 on The Edge 102.1 FM top 30, and still climbing. In front of them are names like Three Days Grace, Arcade Fire, Sum 41, Alexisonfire, Billy Talent, the White Stripes and Smashing Pumpkins. The Edge is the third largest alternative music station in North America -- so, they're running with the big dogs now.

Further, another song from the soon-to-be released CD, the single Who's Got It, was selected as the official song for the 2007 FIFA U-20 World Cup, going on in Canada right now.

So, mark it in your calendar. Go buy this CD next Tuesday. Support four kids from Clarkson who have worked really hard to get this far. You'll love the music. Your kids will think you're edgy and cool. Your spouse will be impressed at the breadth of your knowledge.

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I have made it a mission for each of the few years to find a new band to listen to relentlessly all summer. Two years ago it was The Killers (go buy Sam's Town, or Hot Fuss). Last summer was Death Cab For Cutie (go buy Transatlanticism, or Plans) and recently, a friend asked me who this summer's band will be.

As if you didn't know -- it's illScarlett. If you can't wait till Tuesday, you can go out and buy or legally download their independently produced first CD, EPdemic.

For more information go to . Music will play when the site loads. You've been warned.


July 3, 2007

I know it's summer vacation for the kids when I'm the only one in the house staggering around the kitchen at 6:45a. No lunches for mom to make, no backpacks to pack. Quiet rules the house. Laura usually works from home so without the kids' stuff to deal with she's able to sneak another hour of sleep, maybe a little more before making the commute to her home office. No such luck for me, but that's OK.

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OK, it was quiet, except for the sound of me choking on some of the NHL free agent signings in the last few days. I'd been away and was just catching up.

Is Rafalski worth $6 million per? In the context of what's below, the Leaf's signing Jason Blake may be the best move of the bunch to be honest. And after each of the others, quietly say "Well, at least Toronto didn't sign him."
Jason Blake $4 million?
Scott Gomez $7 million?
Chris Drury $7 million?
Ryan Symth $6 million?
Paul Kariya $6 million?

You also have to wonder if this is the end of the line for Eric Lindros, whose career was heralded as one of the most promising of his generation. In 1998, he was rated one of the top 60 players of all time. Nine years later, he's not going to make that list anymore and the end of his career may be in sight. I remember seeing him play for Canada as a junior in an exhibition game in Ottawa in 1992. He was one of the meanest, most impressive things I ever saw on skates.

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Does anyone else think that simple math would tell you that the fact that the NHL and the NBA have roughly the same salary cap, plus the fact that the NBA has roughly TWICE the revenue of the NHL, equals a big problem down the road for the NHL with the players' union? As in, the new system might not be sustainable for very long? Either that, or, if you ever have to make a choice between owning an NBA team or an NHL team, take the hoop franchise if you want to earn some money.

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I've now played golf twice in the last seven days -- three times if you count the trip to the driving range with Chris. I can report that I am truly an appallingly bad golfer. There was a time I was actually not bad. That time has apparently passed.

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We're trying to figure out how we're going to have a family vacation this year. Rep lacrosse is complicating that effort. I've come to discover that a fair number of households have a rule. Kids can only play one rep sport. Given that we had one full days between the end of hockey season and the start of lacrosse tryouts, it seems like a sensible rule. But explaining that to the kids is not easy. Plus, I'd have no social life at all.