Favorite Reporter

Favorite Reporter

Monday, September 26, 2011

Karaoke and Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Random Rant:
Curling? WTF? It’s 25 degrees out and beautiful. Why am I spending weekends in curling clubs instead of on a golf course? Or camping with my kids? Or drinking beer on a terrace?
Curling in September just seems wrong. All competitive teams these days are looking to get a jump on the season, searching for an edge – and trying to accumulate CTRS points – so you pretty much have to start in September. But it just seems wrong to me.  I thought curling was supposed to be a winter sport.
I walked into a curling club Friday wearing flip flops and shorts, and put on my sweater, gloves and jacket and went and stood on ice for 2 hours. It’s just WRONG.
So here is my thought for competitive curling: We need to move everything later. Start curling in mid-October – but finish in March-April. I look at my last season, my competitive season ended in January. JANUARY! For most teams, competitive curling ends in February, and for a select few – March. Last time I checked, winter officially lasts until March 22.
Furthermore, April is a boring month; there is no golf – the weather is crappy – and the curling clubs are still open - why not more competitive curling then, instead of now?
Moosehead Fall Open
Having said all this, I had a pretty good weekend at the Moosehead Fall Open at the RCMP club in Ottawa.  This is very much a tune-up spiel, with only a few big teams deciding to play.
It was my first spiel with the new team – and it went pretty well. We had a good weekend, lost in the ¼ finals against Brian Cochrane, an ageless guy with immovable hair from Ottawa who always seems to find a way to win. We knocked out pretty much every other Quebec team that played in the tournament – except Phil Lemay who was in the finals.
In Quebec curling news, Guy Hemmings was supposed to be playing with Brier rep Francois Gagné this year, but is out indefinitely with a bad back. Guy was apparently moving furniture or something, although I find it hard to believe that Guy actually tried to move something heavy. My theory is its carpal tunnel syndrome from too much video game action. Seriously - we wish him a speedy recovery, whatever his injury.
Brockville
I was in Brockville 2 weekends ago at the Shorty Jenkins spiel, and had a great time. Played 27 holes of golf, went 3-2 on the curling ice, and came 30cm or so away from qualifying for the ¼ finals. Damn shootouts. They are worse than penalty shots in soccer.
We played against John Epping and his new team, who eventually won the spiel over Glenn Howard and Brad Gushue.  If you have not heard of Epping before – you probably will. Bold prediction – they will be the next big team to come out of Eastern Canada. These guys are good.
We also saw Glenn Howard's new team - with Wayne Middaugh playing 3rd instead of Richard Hart. Of course they will be good, but they just seem to be a little bit harder to cheer for now.
Only complaint about Brockville: Saturday night Karaoke. Didn’t Karaoke die 5 or 10 years ago? If it didn’t, it should have. It always ends up being the same few microphone hogs belting out tunes that you normally don’t want to hear, and it always seems to last about 2 hours too long. I love Earl Morris – but just not as a singer (although admittedly he was pretty good).
Let’s leave the singing to the professionals, people.
It was a tragic party killer – (although I was still there at 1:30AM).
***
Next on the schedule for most big teams is the Mac Ice Classic in Ottawa at the RCMP curling club on Thanksgiving weekend - with pretty much every big Quebec men's and women's team in action.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Pink Cowboy Boots

Let's get it started.

I will be heading up to the Shorty Jenkins Invitational this weekend to kick off my 2011-2012 curling season.

For those of you who do not know who Shorty Jenkins is:
He is the patriarch of modern ice-making in curling. He figured out how to make ice that was fast and that curled, and was thus revered by curlers around the world.
He did the ice for the Brier and TSN Skins Games - and countless events.
I think his masterful technique relied heavily on a piece of sandpaper - but it does not change the fact that he did it better than anyone, and did it before anyone else knew how.
He also likes to wear Pink Cowboy hats and boots, (Insert Brokeback Mountain joke here) - and wore pink well before it was fashionable for guys to do so.

 Sadly, Shorty has gotten old, and is no longer actively making ice. But he is the uncontested hall of fame ice king in Canada (and was even made into a great Tim Horton's commercial in the 90s - sorry I could not find a link!)

The Shorty bonspiel in Brockville is a great event - solid competitive curling mixed with golf at a quaint little country club.
Gushue and Howard will be there, and are the heavy favorites, as well as defending champion Jean-Michel M√©nard who is in our group in the round robin.

The Shorty is kind of a pre-season event - it serves to help switch over your thinking from golf, or camping, or biking - or whatever else you do all summer to curling. Even the the most experienced competitive curlers, there is an adjustment period - where we struggle to get back to the mental discipline required to stay focused for 2+ hours of curling.

***
So curling season starts now. I am excited - but for some reason I found myself asking "why?". Why do I try to curl competitively? Why do I love it? Why do I dedicate so much time, money and mental effort to a sport that is often the subject of ridicule? Why keep pushing to excel at a sport where my success or failure will likely never mean much to anyone but me and my teammates, and maybe those close to me?

I am sure many of you will say - "you do it for fun." You do it to get away on weekends - and drink and be with friends.

But this is increasingly not the case.

First of all - I really can't drink like I used to. I have become a lightweight when it comes to alcohol consumption. A few Rum and Cokes and I am done. And as I age - hangovers seem to get worse. (I barely survived a poker night with friends recently after unwisely bringing a bottle of Jack along. ugh.).

Second of all - as sappy as it sounds - when I am away curling I miss my family. Curling takes me out of town, often in mediocre hotel rooms  - away from my kids - who are remarkably cute.

So, if not to get away and have fun, then why?

The answer is that to be good at curling makes you better at life.

Competitive curling, like golf (another addictive pastime) gives us the opportunity to make ourselves better. Winning at curling usually involves confronting the inner demons that can haunt us all; self-doubt, fear. To win as a competitive level - your need to conquer these. You need to fight the voice that says you can't do it. You need to be confident - you need to know that you can make any shot. You need to not be intimidated.
You also learn the value of practice and preparation.
Not surprisingly - confidence, self-assurance and practice are the keys to success in a lot of other endeavours as well.

I think this is why I love curling, and keep curling competitively despite a number of reasons to quit.

Anyway - please excuse the self-reflective nature of this blog. I will get back to being a farcical curling reporter next week.

***

On another topic, Prince Jaber of the Ivory Coast has not yet answered my request for sponsorship for team Fournier.  Therefore - will need to find another source on funding for the season.

***

Next week:  Psychic Predictions for the upcoming season that will amaze you!


Link to the Shorty Jenkins web page - for those of you wishing to follow along on-line (my mom):

http://www.brockvillecountryclub.com/shorty/index.htm

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Team Fournier seeking sponsorship from Ivory Coast Royalty

Dear Prince Jaffer Nabaroo of the Ivory Coast;
I am writing in reply to your e-mail dated July 17th, asking for my banking information to help repatriate funds frozen in your country’s central bank. My apologies for the late reply, but for some reason your urgent request mistakenly found its way into my spam folder. I will add you to my contacts list to ensure no further delays in our communications.
I will gladly provide you with my banking information and credit card numbers in a subsequent e-mail, so as to facilitate the transfer of the $8,000,000 of funds.
In the meantime, I would like to discuss an exciting opportunity with you; the opportunity to sponsor my competitive men’s curling team.
While I am sure the Ivory Coast has little access to curling, I am quite confident that you would find this sport appealing.  There would be numerous advantages to sponsorship for you:
- My team would be an excellent vehicle for transferring funds into the Canadian banking system. We have a team account (currently with a zero balance).
- Having your name on our team jackets would surely help create a positive image for you in Canada, facilitating your eventual immigration here at some point in the future.
- We would be happy to represent the Ivory Coast in the 2014 winter Olympics in Sochi. This would help raise the international profile of your country. We would even let you be our 5th man; you could be the next Prince Albert of Monaco!  
We are only seeking $10,000 in sponsorship, clearly only a drop in the bucket for a man of your wealth and influence, and only a fraction of the $8,000,000 you have in waiting.
 I look forward to a positive reply to this e-mail. To facilitate the transaction, could you please send me YOUR banking information and address, so as to expedite the transfer of funds.
Thanks,
Mike F, skip of Team Fournier!