Monday, February 26, 2007

The wife and I hit a new restaurant today -- check out my review below (and no, I'm not affliated with the place -- it was just that damned good!):

Carnaval Grill - Restaurantica

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

My wife informed me yesterday by phone it was Shrove Tuesday. For those of you as religiously ignorant as I am (more on that later), this is the day before the start of Lent for Catholics.

Lent is a time of fasting and eating simple foods, so apparently Catholics have historically deemed Shrove Tuesday as the day to empty their larders of all the richer ingredients. My wife referred to it as "Pancake Tuesday," which made my heart skip a beat. She asked if pancakes would be acceptable for dinner, which is like asking John Pinette if he minds swinging by Ponderosa with you on the way home.

So I sat at our kitchen table last night, cramming down a huge stack of flapjacks made the right way (damn near fried and Bisquik as the mix) and feeding little bits to my hovering 11-month-old daughter. We both mmmm'd and clucked at the buttery treat, luxuriating in the taste of the real Canadian maple syrup, and I thought that if pancakes were a regular part of religion, I might have never fallen to the spiritual wayside.

It also reminded me of a time I greatly embarrassed my mother. This was probably 10 years ago, and I was swinging through my hometown. Mom worked in the school district's administration office, so I popped in for a quick hello. As we hugged and I waved to the other ladies in the office, I noticed something odd.

"Gosh, Mom, you have a big spot of dirt or something on your forehead," I said, licking my finger and wiping at it.

Mom looked at me blankly for a second before she realized and started swatting at me.

"It's Ash Wednesday, you dummy!" she shrieked, backpedalling away.

Unfortunately, the damage was done, and Mom's ashes from early Mass ended up a smudge on my heathen hands.

Sorry, Mom.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

The internet is in an uproar over the tossing of an 11-year-old boy during a kids' wrestling tournament in Aurora, IL. That's the video of the news story.

Here's the original story from, which details how Ray Hoffman, the father and assistant coach of one of the teams, bolted from the sidelines and knocked a boy off his son.

You can also find more background information on the story in the Chicago Daily Herald's follow-up story.

There's no excuse for what the father did, but having covered serious youth wrestling for some time, I think the father thought his son's shoulder was going to be popped out of socket.

You have to see one of these kids' tournaments to believe it. There can be as many as 10-12 matches going on at any given time in the space of one basketball court, and the referees are not only charged with handling the match, but also must stop it if their wrestlers appear to be coming close to contacting another bout. It also doesn't help that this particular tournament is called the "St. Valentine's Day Massacre." Nice choice, folks.

A quick look at some wrestling rules (and my own personal experience) shows the referee can stop the match for anything he deems as "unnecessary roughness." There is no pin here. The ref's stopping it because the controller wrestler is either making an illegal move (pulling the arm up behind the back beyond an acceptable degree) or there's clearly going to be some kind of injury to the controlled wrestler.

The reaction of the father and repeated viewings of the video make me think this is what happened (warning: this is a guess, nothing more): The controlling wrestler, once behind and scoring his two points for the reversal, clearly grabs the controlled wrestler's right arm and wrenches it up behind the back. The controller's also leaning hard, pushing it farther and farther toward the controlled's neck.

This isn't legal. It's absoutely acceptable to take control of the arm in an effort to roll the wrestler to his back or for other control issues, but the referee is obviously signaling a potentially dangerous hold (that's why his one hand is on the back of his head -- check here for a list of referee signals), one that I think had already gone beyind "potentially" dangerous.

There's another thing to consider here. Most of the kids and clubs see one another several times during a season, and may have wrestled in years past coming up. I have seen kids with a reputation for hurting other kids. If this is the case, I can understand the father's reaction.

This is in no way an indictment of youth or amateur wrestling, or these tourneys (although I think they could think about cutting down the number of matches going on at any given time). Youth wrestling turns out some great boys (and girls), and as a guy who wrestled one season in high school and had his ass handed to him constantly, there's no one on Earth tougher than a dedicated wrestler.

I'm not saying I condone this. Hoffman should never be allowed to coach again, as it puts him too close to the action. Bf you can say you wouldn't make a move to stop your child from being seriously hurt in any situation where you had the chance to do so, I don't know what to say to you.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Just a note that we are now part of the Technorati family.

Technorati Profile

I have no idea what that means, but there you go.

Also, I have a new blog about advertising running on my buddy Rogers's new blog hub. Find us at The Ad Whisperers!

Monday, February 05, 2007

Congratulations to Montreal Canadians thug Aaron Downey for illustrating why the National Hockey League's in better shape than it was before the lockout.

A little-used offensive liability who skates like George Bush orates, Downey took it upon himself to call out rising phenom Sidney Crosby after the latter went down following an unpenalized high-stick in Sunday's Pittsburgh-Montreal tilt. Of course, Downey did it from the safety of his own bench.

Crosby said Downey told him he shouldn't have ended up on the ice.

"He told me not to go down," Crosby said. "I said, 'If you get a stick in the face we'll see how tough you are. See if you don't go down.' It's funny, you get a high stick and you're not supposed to go down anymore."

For his part, Downey didn't do himself any favours in the postgame interviews.

"Agitating is part of my game," Downey grunted. "I told him that if you're going to be a superstar in this league, you shouldn't be acting like that."

It's a part of his game? It's all he's got.

Downey's crowning achievement to this point in his hockey career is twice topping the 400-minute mark in penalties in the American Hockey League. As for the NHL, he's racked up a staggering 13 points in 180 career games, which might explain his coaches' tendency to have him watch from somewhere high above the ice.

Whether Francis Boullion meant to whack Crosby in the face is questionable, and even unlikely, but it's tough not to think some of the Canadians weren't deliberately trying to injure the young star, especially after Thursday. In that game, Montreal's Maxim Laperriere butt-ended Crosby on the opening face off. Canadians head coach Guy Carbonneau, who should be above such skullduggery, sent out his meathead line to open the game and is squarely responsible for that incident.

The Canadians were apparently agitated by Pittsburgh's Colby Armstrong's hit on their captain, Saku Koivu. Never mind that it happened after Boullion speared Crosby, and that it was a completely clean hit. Montreal handled it well enough to give the Penguins a seven-minute power play. Smart boys, those Canadians.

The fans and many players have also pointed to Crosby's admitted tendency to complain to the refs about missed calls and his willingness to hit the rink when touched. However, it's difficult to fault him for dramatizing a tad when these two blatant penalties were greeted with a turned head.

Much of the discussion in the aftermath seems to be centering around why the Penguins haven't picked up a thug of their own to protect their kids. But the changes to the NHL's style of play -- less hooking and holding, more speed -- make reserving a roster spot for some menacing lummox a waste of space.

Those shifts have made no-tool Neanderthals such as Downey a vanishing breed in NHL arenas, and it's no big loss.

You'd also have to think at some point the league will take a look at a few of these incidents and decide, "You know, allowing one of our meal tickets to be manhandled like a blow-up doll at a shore leave party probably isn't a very good idea, is it?"

Besides, the Penguins are riding a 10-game point streak, sit sixth in the Eastern Conference and are leaps and bounds better than they were last season. Who'd fool with that chemistry?

Of course, it would also mean Pittsburgh would have to go out and actually try to sign an idiot in the same vein as Downey.

Who'd want some moron like that hanging around?