One day moooooooore.
The saddest thing about Canadian culture is the lack of media we’ve made about hockey. (I’ve written about his before.) That means I’ve watched them all. So here’s a short list of films I can recommend: Youngblood; Breakfast with Scot; Mystery, Alaska; and, of course, the Mighty Ducks trilogy. (Did you know Cudlitz is in the third one?)
I’ve seen Breakfast with Scot, but not since it came out so obviously I need to track that down again. I tried to watch Mighty Ducks but the thing is I love Joshua Jackson way too much to handle him being a child on screen, it turns out. None of these other recs of yours are streaming, wtf? (Anyone hook a girl up?)
Not on your list—and American-made/subject, of course—but I actually really liked Miracle. Which had been on my list for a while because it was an earlier film from the guy who made Warrior, which I loved despite actively disliking MMA, because really it was just about men from a dysfunctional family.
I have more to say maybe about how much Bull Durham borrowed from Slap Shot. (SO MUCH, and they are actually sort of similarly romantic, minus the monologue that Kevin Costner basically pushed the writers to add. Which was a good call, clearly.) But also I’m looking forward to The Game being rereleased for Kindle next week so I can catch up on the book side—as Bull Durham makes such good use of, American writing about baseball goes back to Walt Whitman (maybe the original spornographer), and I keep trying to find hockey’s equivalent. I’ve dug my way through some very good longform pieces, though there’s been more digging than reading. Any recs on the book front, o Canadian?
The hands-down greatest cultural product Canada has made is The Hockey Sweater, written by Roch Carrier and made into an animated short directed by Sheldon Cohen. It’s about a kid whose mom buys him the wrong team sweater, but it’s also about English and French Canada, and it’s quoted on the back of our $5 bill. It’s just about everything you need to know about being Canadian.
I’ve read and liked The Meaning of Puck and The Stick, both by Bruce Dowbiggin. Mordecai Richler’s sportswriting collection is called Dispatches from the Sporting Life. Stephen Brunt at The Globe and Mail is a great sportswriter. Tropic of Hockey by Dave Bidini.
I haven’t read, but can recommend, The Antagonist by Lynn Coady, The Good Body by Bill Gaston, and King Leary by Paul Quarrington, which are all sad novels about retired players. Canada doesn’t really know how to write about winners.
There was a stretch in the middle of my five season Adventure Time marathon where, despite how much I love this kid’s cartoon for being progressive, subversive, and a home for different voices in the world, it was starting to feel very boy. I mean that in the nicest way, and it’s not like I didn’t expect it, going into a show about a 13-year-old boy and his magical dog best friend. But the gross-out humour and wrestling and sword fights were starting to wear, and I was growing impatient for the next Princess Bubblegum or Marceline episode.
It was the third or fourth time they took a shot at the seduction community (yes, the seduction community) that I realised what I wasn’t seeing. A show where the most powerful leader is a pink bubblegum princess who loves science and where the most annoying villain is a sad, old man chasing after young girls, Adventure Time is teaching boys how to be men. Good men, not Nice Guys.
Finn has a crush on PB, but whenever he starts to get weird (he’s 13; she’s 18), Jake gives him a smack. Jake is a dog, but he’s also Finn’s big brother. When Finn finds a copy of Mind Games by Jay T. Doggzone (a thinly-veiled parody of every PUA manual ever), Jake has to explain that he only keeps it around for laughs. He doesn’t believe in that stuff, and neither should Finn. Jake sets the example for a healthy relationship, with his girlfriend, Lady Rainicorn, the entire span of the series. (They have kids together, too, even if rainicorns age faster than expected.)
Once Bubblegum lets Finn down, he sulks for a few episodes. Then he meets the Flame Princess. She’s 13, too, and though they don’t have a lot in common, and she doesn’t always laugh at his jokes, Finn likes her. They go on picnics (with Jake and Lady as chaperones). Finn takes her to a dungeon. Flame Princess teaches him how to blow stuff up. They’re getting to know each other.
For Finn, the most important thing is to be a hero. He spends his days fighting the Ice King, saving the Candy Kingdom, and inventing new ways to make people laugh. It’s his job. In the Land of Ooo, a 13-year-old boy can do this as a job.
In our world, 13-year-old boys are in their first year of high school. They’re noticing how girls are different. They’re figuring out what they can do as a job. They’re pulling away from their parents and looking up to the big kids in grade 12. There is still a lot of gross-out humour and wrestling and sword fights, but we change in a lot of ways during those four years of high school, and one of those ways is deciding what to pick up and what to leave behind.
I hope the boys growing up and watching Adventure Time right now don’t leave Finn and Jake behind. They’re teaching important lessons about what to do, who to be, and how to treat the world, not only the people you care about, but everyone. I hope the men getting high and watching Adventure Time right now are paying attention, too. There are lessons for them that they maybe didn’t get the first time around.
Be a hero. Save the day. But if a girl doesn’t laugh at your jokes, that’s no reason to run away and hide in the pillow fort. Be a man. And if you can’t be a man, be a boy like Finn. You’ll get there eventually.
In their first game of the 2007 Playoffs, the Canucks took the Stars to quadruple overtime (and won, on a goal by Henrik Sedin in the 138th minute). So I took a photo of my TV.
That night I walked from Halifax to Dartmouth and back at 11 PM just because.
If you can manage the bread, I’ll whip you up some scrambled eggs that’ll be a poem.