Saturday, May 24, 2008

Some pictures...waiting on the videos.











I think the videos for the Sunrise boot camp and Mark Hatfield's NFL-style agility and strength training will be available soon. I think. In the meantime, here are some pictures.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Funny...

There is a new facebook group out there, created by a fine CHEZ listener, Mike Donnelly, to bring back Cynical Cinema to the air. http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=28374608016 to join! This group currently has 15 members. However, the facebook group "Let Eric The Intern Be Tasered", which to be fair has been up much longer, has 105 members! Looks like the people are speaking...thanks Mike! You're awesome!

Football training.

I think, had I done today's training on the first day, it may not have been so brutal. I don't think Mark Hatfield wanted me to die, but he also seemed to have a hard time believing I was struggling as much as I was. And rightly so. Even a fairly out-of-shape individual should be able to make it through this routine without vomiting or passing out or collapsing. Well, I didn't (quite) vomit, I didn't pass out, but I certainly collapsed. I just could not do the last couple of excercises. I was totally done. For today and for the whole week. Mark Hatfield, from Hatfield's Athletic Development Centre, put me through one of the most rigorous workouts I have had all week. And, for the most part, it was extremely familiar to me. The old-school football drills where the whistle blows, and you have to run right, then left, then forward and backward and drop to the ground and get back up and then do it all over again. The running through the rope ladder, the drills with the pylons. All very familiar. I used to do this stuff like it was as easy as walking. Then again, that was ten years and 70 pounds ago.

There was some new stuff too, stuff I had never seen. Hatfield runs a strength, agility and balance camp, and he has a lot of devices to help with each of those things. Jumping through obstacle courses, doing strange pushups with ropes dangling from trees, and then the balancing stuff. Boards on balls, balls on boards, all kinds of stuff to help learn and maintain the delicate art of balancing without falling over. An art which I apparently have a long way to go before learning. And then the giant hill. There is a giant hill at Mooney's Bay, one which is ideal for people who want to train for things by...running up hills. I am not one of those people. But I did it, two "sprints" up the side, while Mark ran beside me, in fact, danced beside me. Once, when I was playing waterpolo, a friend who swam in the Olympics told me he would watch my stroke and help me swim faster. I was pretty fast. And I took of at full speed, showing him what my stroke currently was. And before long, I realized he was swimming, on his back, underneath me in the pool, not even moving his arms, and looking up at me as I swam. This is how I felt today.

Mooney's Bay is a very nice, idyllic setting for training such as this. It's picturesque, it's pretty in the morning, and it's green on the grass and sandy on the beach. And it's also covered in goose poop. So you can't mind getting dirty when you're doing up-downs or pushups, or just plain falling over. And I did a good deal of that. Mark put me through my paces, and it was definitely tough, and I am certainly glad it's all over. I just realized something though. Mark used to play for the Miami Dolphins, when Dan Marino was toward the end of his career. And he began to tell me a story about Dan Marino. And how Marino, after the game where he broke the all-time TD pass record, invited Mark over for Thanksgiving dinner. And then he pulled up in front of Mark in a van. And then...I forgot to get the rest of the story! He was telling me the story as we jogged around between 40-second excercises in the circuit training, then Doc and Woody phoned, we got sidetracked, and I forgot to ask how the story ended! How silly of me.

Anyway, it's all done, I'm still alive, and all is good. I wonder if I've lost any weight or anything. Here's Mark Hatfield's website:

http://www.hatfields.ca/

My poop is neon green.

I decided this morning that I would eschew my routine hamburger breakfast, in order to eat better and maybe make it through the NFL-style training camp that was in store for me. So I ate a bowl of All-Bran instead. And then I got to wrok, and Mrs. Woody had made me a protein shake for the day. And as I finished the last drop, Woody made mention of the fact that since this was a fairly large departure from my usual diet, there was a good chance it might make it's way through my system really fast. And he was right. Two minutes into my workout this morning, I realized I had the runs. But there were no toilets at Mooney's Bay open for me to use. No bushes to hide behind. And a workout to get into. So I held it in for an hour and a half while being put through some seriously punishing football drills. And by the time I got back to the station, my need to poop had gone away. It returned as Doc was driving me home, and I just got in now and let fly. And it was neon green. Bright, staggeringly crisp, neon green. I think I may, over the course of the day, have turned into a leprechaun.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Now...the boot camp.

So boxing made me cramped and stiff and tired. Krav Maga made me sore and bruised and tired, but I was still stiff and cramped and tired from the boxing. So this morning, when I got up, I was sore, bruised, stiff, cramped, and totally worn-out. Now that I have finished the Sunrise Boot Camp, I am sore, bruised, stiff, cramped, limping, nauseous, and absolutely exhausted. The movement is returning to my fingers, which is nice, but the rest of my body feels like I've beentied to the ground during a cattle stampede...OK, that analogy was a bit of a stretch, but I've been watching Season 3 of Rawhide these past few days...the boot camp was the toughest day yet. And at this point I have no way to gauge whether that is because it is actually a harder workout, or if it is rather because I am so beaten up by the other workouts that I can barely function as a human being ought to.

The main thing that killed me at the boot camp was the running. And there wasn't even that much running! This was the one which really showed me how staggeringly out of shape I have become. Eleven years ago, I did workouts like this every morning. In fact they were tougher! We would run 10 km with the rowing team, get back to the school and do an hour of pushups, sit-ups, jumping jacks and burpees. Then we would go to school, and at lunch I would hit the weight room with the rugby team, and after school was either football or waterpolo. I spent the entire day either running or doing excercises. Now, I can barely make it through the warm-up at boot camp. We jogged around the track, did a few pushups and jumping jacks and burpees, and jogged back. And I was finished. Already. This was about the six-minute mark of the sixty-minute workout. Then jogging back to the main area, jogging to one goalpost and sprinting to the other, jogging and sprinting, jogging and sprinting. I really thought I was going to make an ass of myself by puking in the first twenty minutes. But I made it.

Then to the mats. Sit-ups and pushups and more burpees. Because, for the full hour, this boot camp never stopped. (In fact, it started so suddenly, with no respite, that I spent the first twenty-five minutes running in my coat, with my pockets full of my stuff - keys, wallet, books, organizer, cell phone, and other assorted impediments to my excercise. As I ran, this stuff flew around me, hitting me in the face and dragging me down. That's right. Three pounds worth of crap in my jacket pockets dragged me down. Finally, I had a chance to take off the jacket and fling it at Esther, who was filming this hour-long descent into complete misery.) So because of this frenentic pace, the sit-ups and pushups and burpees actually seemed like the rest period. I just desperately wanted no more running.

But it was not to be. I think the thing that killed me the most was this shuffling run, sideways, around the big circle, that made my legs burn and my stomach turn...hey, that rhymes! Then we ran some more, this time with giant elastics that one person pulled while someone else followed. I was paired up with Roxanne, one of the two instructors at the camp. I'm pretty sure she was going easy on me. In fact, when she was the one pulling me, she kept saying "only one and a half more laps", as though despite the fact that I was not the one doing the work, I was the one who needed the encouragement. And she was right. I did need it. Just jogging was killing me. And then, the grand finale. We ran in a big circle, passing a medicine ball back down the line, and the person at the back had to run up to the front when he or she got it. Again, an excercise I used to do in my sleep. Now, I took the ball, I ran for the front of the line, and I lost the ball. I chased it down, I picked it up, but the others hadn't stopped running! And though I tried, there was no catching the,. My legs gave out, I collapsed, the ball rolled into the middle of the circle, and I tried to speak. No luck.

In fact, I think every time I talked on the radio this morning, I couldn't make even one word come out of my mouth intelligibly. I was slurring words and trying to spit them out like Bob Dylan after six bottles of vermouth...wow, I really don't have the analogies working today, do I? This Sunrise boot camp must have affected my brain. Anyway, this is a program that will whip you into shape, fast, in just a few weeks. Every morning, from 5:30 to 6:30. And I will guess that within a few short weeks, you will have the physique of Matthew McConaughey and the stamina of...Hugh Hefner? Ahhhh, my brain is useless now too. Here is a link to their website:

http://www.ottawajkd.com/Ottawa_Jeet_Kune_Do/bootcamp_information.html

Funny guys...


One thing I didn't mention in my post about the Krav Maga guys was that they all had a pretty good sense of humour. That sense of humour comes through loud and clear in this video, which has finally made it to youtube. They left out the really tough kicking-me-while-I-did pushups scene, when they were kicking me harder, I guess because that was early on and I was still halfway able to defend myself. By the time this clip begins, it has been several minutes of pushups and kicks, and situps and punches. I was hoping to see the very end, also, where I was buried under an avalanche of stabs, but Laurent's brief statement makes it very clear that I would not have remained alive had they gone ahead with the real knives. Also, I'm moving to an unlisted address tomorrow...perhaps I will live in a silo on a farm until they forget about me...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=24qtJfz1lww
There it is. Enjoy my misery!

I am sore...now here comes more.




On the top, I'm defending myself against a stabbin'. On the bottom, Lorne is kicking me while I do pushups. Note that he has padding on his legs, to protect his shins, but I have none on my arms. Or face. This was my day yesterday. My day today has already begun with giant bruises and lumps on my forearms. My neck is still stiff and sore from boxing on Tuesday. My legs are barely moving, my hands are having trouble opening and closing, just typing is becoming a herculean effort, and my ribs and sternum are now bruised a little as well. And now, I am on my way to another event. Not into work, where I have a little time to rest before the next activity begins, but rather to Orleans, to the Sunrise Boot Camp, where I will be doing...other stuff...God knows what - I won't know until I get there, I suppose. But I am certain that unless the "boot camp" involves picking flowers and Scrabble, I will end up even more sore. And I suspect that it does not involve picking flowers and Scrabble. Sorry about the screwy writing along the side of the picture here, I can't figure out how to fix that.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Krav Maga! Kinda sounds like the sound an Israeli rooster might make...

I am going to attempt to type this blog post now, before my hands seize up with my bruises and muscle fatigue and I can no longer use the computer. When I arrived this morning, for my Krav Maga training, the instructor, Laurent, asked me about my pain threshold. I told him my tolerance for pain was much, much higher than my tolerance for excercise. And he took that to heart. Well, the pain part, not the excercise part. The excercise was intense. And the guys (Laurent, Lorne, Mario and Alex) provided the pain. They had no problem with the idea of hurting me at all. Especially after I made fun of them a little early on. You see, the very first excercise was one where we danced around each other, attempting to slap each other on the head, or the shoulders, or the knees. We started with one guy slapping me and me slapping him, then they upped it to two guys, then three then four. Which was fairly taxing, and tough, but I'm sure that the video which comes out later today will look as though we were having a kindergarten slap fight. And I made the mistake of saying as much.

You see, Krav Maga is supposed to be this super-intense, crazy, bad-ass method of self defense. It was created (I am told) by a Jewish wrestler and judo fighter who was running a group of resistance fighters who took on the Nazis in the early thirties, before they took power and when they were just a bunch of renegade groups beating up Jews. Once the Nazis took power, he moved to Palestine and began teaching his method of self-defense to the army. This is now the prefered method of self-defense of the Israeli army, the FBI, the LAPD and dozens of other forces around the world. And I found it amusing that we would begin the same way we would in school - with slap-fighting. And I said as much. But the guys seemed to take umbrage, and stepped up the self-defense school right away. The next excercise was pushups and situps. Which is normal stuff. Only now, people were kicking me while I did the pushups, and I had to punch them while I did the situps! And THAT is pretty tough. I had discovered that punching is hard work yesterday, now I had to do it while doing other stuff! Painful. We went through more and more drills - how to defend against any possible knife attack. How to disarm a guy with a gun. All the good stuff.

And with each drill, it escalated. I would take on one guy, then two, then three. The grand finale was a three-guy knife attack on me for three full minutes. I lasted fairly well for about two and a half, then I was overcome with exhaustion and curled up in a ball in the corner for the last five seconds while three guys stabbed me with rubber knives about a thousand times. I think, after my hour and a half training session, I would feel reasonably confidant against one knife-wielding assailant. But if there are three, I'd better find a baseball bat, and quick. Or maybe just curl up in a ball and hope it ends quickly. Krav Maga is pretty hardcore, and definitely an intense workout. It's used by the military, (where they actually get to stab the guy after taking his knife), the cops (where they put him down and keep him down), and regular people (where they disarm the guy and then run like hell). Lorne (who spent time in the Israeli army) told me a story about a martial arts master who did some Krav Maga drills and was amazed at how often he got stabbed. And after just a few short weeks of training with the new system, he was able to take on and defeat ten guys at once. Then again, he was a martial arts master.

Anyway, I have certainly learned something here. And that is this: Practicing Steven Seagal moves in my living room while watching Marked For Death has not helped me become a ninja. I have no hope of defending myself based on moves studied from film. Good thing I found this out too, because I was itchin' to use them moves in my next bar fight. Now I realize that I am woefully unprepared for street combat, and I had better take some more Krav Maga classes if I want to become battle-ready. They are certainly available for beginners - www.krav.ca would be the place to go. Oh, and for a more traditional fighting workout, http://finalround.ca/ is a good start. Now, I'm going to stop typing before my hands really do seize up.

Boxing! The video...

Much to my embarassment, here is the video of me (attempting) to be a boxer for an hour and a half yesterday:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=umz8eQ5JHvI

My hands aren't working.

My hands don't work. They don't jurt, but they're barely working. This is the most difficult blog posting I have ever typed, because I am using almost entirely my left hand. My right hand is having trouble with the most basic tasks. Like closing and opening. I can't even double-click a mouse. My neck is stiff and sore, and my back is a little bit tweaked. All this because of one day of working out. I had my first of four brutal days yesterday at Final Round boxing on McCarthy. Matt, the owner of the place, put me through my paces. Learning to punch, doing pushups and drills and excercises and so forth. And then sparring. Two rounds of two minutes each, and it absolutely killed me. Matt was going easy on me, and didn't hit me in the face too much, but I was still decidedly overmatched. Punching for two minutes straight takes a lot out of a person. Especially if you're trying to punch hard. I now understand fully how Ali managed to use the rope-a-dope. I can see how Foreman could have punched himself out in the Rumble in the Jungle. Punching is HARD WORK! (I tried a lead right during our sparring match, just like Ali did against Foreman, trying to throw Matt off his game. It turns out you have to be good enough to do that, and I am not.)

Matt was also giving me openings. I was thinking so hard about my technique through the two rounds of sparring that I was halfway through before I realized he was dropping his guard to give me a chance to punch his head. But even when I could see the kill shot right there, I couldn't do it. Something in me won't let me punch someone in the head as hard as I can. Even though he was wearing head gear, my punches are weak anyway, and I could barely lift my arms at the time. I may as well have made a slingshot out of a doily, used a cupcake for a rock, and hit him with that. By the end of the session, I couldn't lift my arms. By the time I left for home, I couldn't drive the car with my right arm. And even now, I can't use my right hand for just about anything.

Which brings us to today. I went out last night looking to purchase a protective cup for today's Krav Maga training. However, it looks as though the city's supply of jockstraps is completely depleted. There were none to be found, anywhere in town. And that was the one specification the Krav Maga people had - be sure to wear a cup! I am REALLY not looking forward to today now. But I have to stop typing. My arms and fingers are exhausted.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Family dinners. And occasions. And so forth.

I now have several families. One of them was at my house over the weekend for a Mother's Day dinner. Mother's Day, in my girlfriend's family, is a cause for celebration on a par with Christmas and Easter and all the other occasions that require a massive dinner and dozens of guests. In my immediate family, Mother's Day and Father's Day and all similar occasions are sort of passing footnotes. If my Dad is in town for Father's Day, I will likely pick him up a small present and write an obnoxious card, and same goes for Mom. If they are not in town, which is more often the case, I may send my Dad an email if I think of it, or call Mom if I think of that. (She doesn't check her email often, which means she gets a phone call.) This is either because I am a bad son, or because our family prefers to limit our displays of celebratory family interaction to a few, more important, times during the year. I like to think it's the latter. But my own family is just one of my many families now, and the one at my house yesterday is one who enjoys the celebration of all things Hallmark.

Which is fine, it means we can all get together and enjoy a giant meal with the kids and the grandparents and the great-grandparents and the uncles and so forth. And my own involvement in the preparations is, usually, limited to perhaps peeling a few potatoes and lifting the pots that are too heavy for everyone else. However, we got our house in the fall, and have since hosted all of my girlfriend's family gatherings. And this was the very first one when landscaping became an issue. Landscaping! Like, although the weather is going to be rainy and lousy during our Mother's Day celebration, people may look outside through the window. And if they do, then we want them to think that our lawn is nicely manicured. And that our tulips are flourishing, and the hedge is freshly trimmed and symmetrical, and the gardens are properly edged, and the giant ceramic frog that presides over our snowpeas is facing the proper, South-west direction. Otherwise, what would our family think of us? They would think, first of all, that I am a lazy slob who doesn't care about yardwork or the appearance of my house!

And they would be right. I was conscripted into yard duty the day before our big dinner event. I had hoped, perhaps foolishly, that I could go the entire summer without mowing my lawn. Just like I had hoped, certainly foolishly, that I could go the entire winter without shoveling snow. And the creepiest thing happened to me while I began that most odious of chores, lawn-mowing. I started to...care! I got a CD player from inside, brought it out into the backyard, and cranked some Tom Pettyas I finished the mowing and went around with an edger. I clipped the hedges, stepped back and surveyed them from a distance, then returned to even them out. I began picking weeds out from between the cracks in the patio stones. Then the skies opened up and it poured rain. And I ran inside. And when the rain stopped, my motivation had gone and my apathy toward yardwork had returned. So that was all that had been done by the time guests arrived, which was more than I would have anticipated anyway.

And in the end, no one really looked at the backyard, as I had surmised. A small amount of time was spent in the backyard on the patio by a small discussion group that had broken off from the main pack. But I don't think the weeds in the cracks had any bearing on our politically-motivated discussion of U.S. foregin policy, Middle Eastern diplomacy, and the financial basis of American race relations. Although at one point, the conversation did turn to the use of vinegar on common patio weeds. Perhaps I hadn't cleaned up enough. But I remember the old days. When my Mom or Dad was coming for dinner, or even (as my Dad sometimes did) to stay over for a few nights. Cleaning up, then, meant putting away the open liquor bottles on the tables, cleaning out any bras and panties that might have collected in and around the couch, disposing of any lewd materials that may have been left lying around, and changing the sheets. Or, at least, flipping them over. That's about it. It never occured to me that perhaps they would have appreciated some effort to be tidy. This, even though my house was always spotless when I was a child. I guess I really am a bad son.

Oh, and Doc, Woody, and Randall were right. My girlfriend DID expect me to do something for her for Mother's Day. And I didn't. My contention that she was not MY mother meant nothing. It was up to me to get a present for her, and then hand it off to the kids so they could give it to her...all that stuff. And I failed. Her youngest mailed her a hand-written letter from school, which was awfully cute, and she loved that. And her oldest called her. And I thought - good for you, kids! You both did what was important on Mother's Day. Acknowledged your Mom. But it turns out I was supposed to play a major role in this as well. I still don't get this. How come on Mother's Day we have to acknowledge all the mothers we know? I don't give chocolates and flowers to every couple I know on Valentine's Day. Come on! I just hope I haven't lost my apathy toward yardwork by the time St. Jean-Baptiste Day rolls around.


P.S. - my girlfriend just called me upstairs to show me that the loud old ladies on The View are having the exact same discussion, about Hamas and Israel, and American foreign policy, that my family had last night. And Joy Behar was speaking my part. Ugh. At least it wasn't that skinny blonde neo-con chick.

Last day of peace.

Coming up, I have a massive week of workouts. Painful, extreme, hardcore workouts that are apparently going to whip me into shape in a scant four days. Now, I certainly could stand to lose a couple of pounds. Or...a couple of dozen pounds. And I have always maintained that if I ever lose weight and become slim, it will be thanks to physical activity and sports, not through dieting or changing what I eat. I mean, I love what I eat, and I would rather live an active delicious life than a sedentary bland one. But Doc and Woody are not exactly looking out for my health here. This isn't like a tour of yoga gyms and tai-chi classes. This is going to be a tough week. Here's how it breaks down:

Tuesday: Final Round Boxing. I will be doing a boxing workout, which sounds kind of sissy when you think about Rocky punching meat and running on the beach and skipping rope. But they have suggested that I get into the ring and actually spar with some of their competitive team. So...I'm sure that sparring is a fairly intense workout. But I'm also certain Doc and Woody have sent me there only to get pummeled.

Wednesday: Krav Maga. This is that Israeli secret-service and FBI defense training martial arty thing. I am told that I will be learning to fend off two knife-wielding attackers for up to three minutes. It isn't the knives that scare me, it's the three minutes. I watched Munich. I don't want to mess around with any Israeli commandos. I'm good. The note from the Krav Maga guys closes with this: "One note - it is essential that Eric bring groin protection." Now tell me - what does getting hit in the groin have to do with getting into shape? Seriously.

Thursday: Boot Camp. I kow all about Boot Camp. I have seen it on TV. It's where teens on the Maury Povich show are out of control, and so they get sent to this place where guys scream at them, and they cry, and then they come home all better. There was also a recent movie called Boot Camp, starring Mila Kunis, and she gets naked in it. Here is a review from a respected movie critic: http://blog.rogersradiointernet.com/cynicalcinema/2008/04/27/boot-camp-is-this-what-happens-after-the-maury-povich-show-310/ Anyway, I think I can handle R. Lee Ermey shouting at me and calling me Private Pyle for a few hours. Here is a link to a respected movie critic's review of Private Pyle: http://blog.rogersradiointernet.com/cynicalcinema/2008/05/19/out-tomorrow-gomer-pyle-usmc-season-4-310/ Anyway. I'm supposed to bring my own mat and hand weights - how hardcore can something be when you use 8-pound hand weights? Really? And bringing my own stuff? This seems like a lot of effort...

Friday: The NFL workout. Former Miami Dolphins player Mark Hatfield runs a strength, agility, balance and speed camp. I have average strength, below average balance, next to no agility and the speed of a walrus. His note says that this camp has "many ways to make a grown man cry". It also closes with this quote: "You set a goal to be the best and then you work hard every hour of every day, striving to reach that goal." I'm crying already.

I am going to miss my own premiere!

Several months ago, I signed on to host a golf tournament for the Jewish Community Centre in June. I like hosting golf tournaments - it's always a solid day, meeting new people and playing in a tournament where scores are fairly meaningless. It does little for my game, these best ball things where you only take six different shots over the course of a game, but there is always a nice dinner and a lot of happy (often drunk) people enjoying some auctions and prizes and so forth. I don't take money to host when it's for charity, but I take a tax receipt for the donation of my time, which ends up making for a solid bonus on my tax return at the end of the year. And I'm looking forward to this one. I went to a meeting with the board of directors of the tournament, who seem to have their stuff in order. The worst thing these tournaments do, when they do it, is drag on and on when the whole thing is over. Two hundred prizes given out by raffle, three hundred auction items that range from hockey tickets to brand-new shoelaces, and all of this after everyone has been served and finished their dinner. These guys, however, get it. A golf tournament - the dinner, the auction and everything - has to be done by a reasonable hour, in this case they say 8:00.

However, it will be with a slightly heavy heart that I host this event this time. You see, the movie premiere date of my short film, The Funeral: Again, is that very same night. This is a 15-minute movie in which I acted some six months ago or so. And it is coming to an actual theatre, having an actual screening, and it seems like a really cool event I don't want to miss. But it is not to be, this time. The premiere is by invitation only, and I will be forced to miss it. So I am going to send someone in my stead, equipped with a bootlegging apparatus so they can videotape the movie and bring it back to me on DVD...

Actually, I had a long discussion about movie bootlegging with the kids the other night. They were irritated, because they wanted to watch Kung Fu Panda, but at home, and not out in the theatres where the floors are sticky. They suggested that I download the movie to save us all the trouble of getting into the car and navigating the sticky floors of some crass multi-plex. Although I tried in some way to explain why I didn't download theatrical movies and burn them to DVD, I think I lost them when I started to use words like "intellectual property" and "digital piracy" and "professional integrity". Their argument was "everyone does it". Which is, as I recall, my own argument for just about everything when I was their age. Whether "everyone" did it or not. Come on, Mom! Let me ride the sled down the stairs! Everyone does it! And I just don't believe in it...that and it's likely more trouble than it's worth. So I won't be pirating any flims. Except for mine.

If only I could remember how I used to do things.

Our eight-year-old recently expressed an interest in the musical instruments around the house. In particular, my old violin, which I haven't played in maybe fifteen years. I was going to show him how to play, but the thing was in rough shape, a serious state of disrepair. So I took it to Peter Dawson Violins on Bronson, and had it fixed up, purchased a new bow, and set to work showing him how it was done. But when I picked it up, I discovered that playing the violin is not at all like riding a bike. It really IS something that you can forget over time. I used to be quite good, now I can't remember a single song I used to know. All I can remember is where the fingers go, and how to hold a bow. So after a few hours of middling around, I was competent enough, once again, to actually show him a few things. I taught him to play "Baa baa black sheep", and now he knows as many songs on the thing as I do. I'm going to have to learn all over again. During the time we don't have him, I'm going to have to re-learn everything I once knew, so I can teach him more stuff. Up next - "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star". Which, in fact, is the exact same song as "Baa baa black sheep". But...baby steps. For me as well.

More golfin'.

My sister came to town from North Bay on Friday. Just for the day, just for some golf. We hit the Canadian. I haven't golfed with my sister since we were quite young, and I was pleased to note that our approach to golf is virtually the same. It must run in the family. She showed up at the golf course with the plastic still on some of her clubs - the ones she doesn't use often. She aims just like I do - poorly. She hits the ball a ton, really good power, but no short game whatsoever. And when we joined up with the two older guys in front of us, both of us completely came apart as far as the golf game goes. Perhaps the pressure or something. And then when we were done, all we could think of was beer and hot dogs. It must be a sibling thing.

Alice Cooper - are you kidding me? Thanks Robin!

After peeling a banana with my butt, and posting that video online, my girlfriend started complaining. That was just too far. To disgusting. It wasn't even funny. Why do you DO these things...and so on and so forth. And although I agreed with her in principal - it WAS disgusting, and not funny, and all the rest of it, I told her that every time I do something Doc and Woody want me to do, and I don't find it funny or relevant or interesting, that ends up being the one thing that takes off, or that becomes more than just another crappy youtube video. Painting with my butt...come to think of it, most of this stuff has to do with my ass. The Robin Harper gets it into his head that Alice Cooper, the ultimate rock 'n roll showman, might enjoy having an opening act like my banana-peeling trick. And he asks him on his radio program on Thursday afternoon if the idea appeals (no pun intended) to him. And Alice Cooper says that it does. He actually seemed interested! (Or, at the very least, interested in seeing the video.)

So, even if nothing else goes my way, and I don't end up on stage with Alice Cooper, at least I know he has watched my video. Alice Cooper has watched MY video. That, in itself, makes me happy. And on Robin's show Thursday, he said two things that thrilled me. First, he dropped the names of two people I absolutely love. First, he compared me (hypothetically) to Sinatra, suggesting that having a talent like mine and not showing others would be like Sinatra not singing. Then, he said that were he still alive, Frank Zappa would sign me to a contract! Just hearing that conversation on Friday was one of the best moments of my life! I really need to get a better life...

We lose! And I find it hard to care.

Somehow, I just can't get into the World Hockey Championships the way I can the Olympics or the Stanley Cup playoffs. I've been watching the Detroit-Dallas series, every game, and I'm really getting behind Dtroit. Although of course I would love to see Dallas make history and come back from 3-0, I just love watching Detroit. The way Datsyuk and Zetterberg are able to just keep the puck on their sticks for so long, circling the net and the offensive zone and never giving it up. Watching Nik Lidstrom is amazing too - the guy never makes a mistake. Sure, it's kind of boring to watch a guy never screw up, but I find my eyes drawn to him every time he's on the ice. He's magnificent. And the Pittsburgh series - it's been amazing to watch Crosby, Malkin, Hossa and Staal lighting it up with that team, which is so incredibly offensively gifted that it makes me excited for every game, even if it's against Phildelphia, and I hate the Flyers. Well, they're gone, anyway.

And I have been watching the World Championships, even though I can't get into that hockey as much. Oh sure, I want Canada to win, but it makes little difference to me if they do. Watching that gold medal game yesterday, I was as excited to watch Ovechkin as I was to watch Heatley. Kovalchuk and Semin and Fedorov are probably more interesting than Getzlaf and Spezza and Nash. OK, not Nash. That guy's some kind of international highlight reel unto himself. But what it comes down to for me is that this really isn't "Team Canada". And they're not playing "Team Russia". It's Team Best-Canada-Can-Get vs. Team Best-Russia-Can-Get. Is there any doubt we would have seen Malkin vs. Crosby had Pittsburgh been knocked out early? Lidstrom, Datsyuk, Zetterberg, Modano, Briere - they would all have been in the Worlds had they not made it to the conference finals. So who knows, really, how Canada or Russia or Sweden actually stack up on a world scale? In the end, I watch the Worlds simply for the great hockey. Finland looked fantastic in that bronze medal game on Saturday. The hockey is wide-open and exciting, featuring the best players in the world. But I don't even try to cheer for anyone any more.

And one more thing - how come TSN or Sportsnet or anyone else who covers internationa hockey, during the World Hockey or the Olympics or anything else, has to do it differently than they do NHL hockey? We hockey fans are used to looking at the time on the screen and expecting that to be the time left in the period. Why do all NHL games on TV count down, and the international hockey games count up? I know, I know, it's attached to the scoreboard, and that's how it works, but it seems fairly easy to adjust your graphics so they count down and not up. And I, as a hockey fan, am also used to seeing one team highlighted when they have a power play, not when they have a penalty and are short-handed. It doesn't seem like a stretch to suggest that keeping the same basic template you have for the NHL games would make it easier on us regular hockey fans. Just a thought.