Shirt Off Their Back

by Michael Schultz on November 20, 2014

Toronto fans have lots to cheer and jeer about these days. The Raptors are doing well – off to a great start. But the Leafs continue their inconsistent ways. This past week they lost to Nashville 9-2. Ouch.

Apparently fans are starting to throw their rather expensive Leaf sweaters on the ice. This has happened a few times this season. Leaf player Phil Kessel replied to Toronto fans by saying:

” If you want to boo us that’s fine – but you’re disrespecting all of the great players and the great teams that they’ve had before us….I think that’s pretty classless to throw your jersey on the ice like that.”

Here’s an episode from an October game against Pittsburg:

I remember being part of a high school baseball coach clinic back in the 1990s. ( the Jays were doing well) A Mississippi State (MS – my initials) coach was putting on a clinic. He wore his team uniform. The hat said “MS”, my initials. I went to him after the clinic and said ‘thanks’ and asked him how I could get a Mississippi State (MS) hat. ” You can’t”, he replied, ” for the players only”.

So there’s the first mistake the Leafs made. Don’t sell the jerseys to fans. Sacrilege.

Apparently the sweaters thrown on the ice go to charity.

Gives a whole new twist on Roch Carrier’s The Sweater. Here is the fabulous NFB animated version:


Harper’s Genius Jab

by Michael Schultz on November 17, 2014

Our Prime Minister Stephen Harper is in Australia for a G20 meeting after a business swoop through China. He’s been a busy boy.

This morning’s paper ( article by Campbell Clark) lauds him for his ‘political genius’ in a face to face showdown with evil guy Vlad Putin. Mr. Putin has been the global ‘bad guy’ since his intervention in the Ukraine…kinda like ‘Mr. Ebola’. ( could be a WWF character….)

Apparently our guy told Putin amid a group of leaders: “Well, I guess I’ll shake your hand, but I only have one thing to say to you: You need to get out of Ukraine.”

This may be behaviour unbecoming of Harper who does not tend to be confrontational face-to-face but who is known to be blunt in his criticism in public.

There is no actual ‘audio’ or ‘visual’ proof of the encounter but this news cover (with what sounds like a computerized voice – think ” I  am Stephen Hawking”) seems to validate it.

Harper’s heckle will go a long way at the polls with Ukranian Canadians. Frankly, I’d rather see him more constructive on the environment. Why wouldn’t he also show his distaste and be more outspoken for the pollution or inferior goods that China is pumping out during this trip to make headlines? I think the G20 should show more unity in confronting Putin not just Harper. I get the feeling that he did this not to soothe his own conscience but to speak on behalf of Ukranian Canadians – in other words, ‘they made me do it’.

Legoland Heckling

by Michael Schultz on November 15, 2014

My six year old grandson is a fan of Lego ( for me it was mini bricks). He’s also morphing into Playstation thanks to his uncle( aka Staystationary – but he’s an active lad so I’m not too concerned).

So it is that I noticed that the Muppets – and even Statler and Waldorf ( who I’ve covered before due to their exemplary heckling platform in the balcony) – have been “legoized”.

The Muppet Show of the 1970s was a true classic. This spot might be seen as crassly commercial but if it gets kids watching the old series or loving Kermit and Co., then it’s a good thing.

I Must Say

by Michael Schultz on November 12, 2014

Entertainer Martin Short is out with a highly readable book on his life called I MUST SAY – My Life As a Humble Comedy Legend. I am enjoying it and came across a heckling piece extraordinaire.

We tend to think that because a person is funny has been on SNL and SCTV that they must have a stand-up comedy background…not so. Marty was, from his performing origins, bent on singing and performing and being funny. It’s a powerful ‘triple play’. But he didn’t do a lot of stand-up in clubs.

However, back in the late 1970s, Carole Pope from the band Rough Trade asked him to put together some schtick and open for them. Marty agreed and showed up with some humorous observational material. The crowd was very “Goth” and very hostile. He faced a flurry of snide comments. Then he got a beer in the face. All he could say was …”ah…it’s a light beer” and left the stage.

Pope apologized for the rowdy and heckling audience and said she was sorry and that the crowd the next night wouldn’t be bad. Marty said, “that’s OK because I won’t be there.” Short was wise to follow the path he did – more music, more skits, more success.

A favorite of mine is this Martin Short Special from 1985. It’s Marty doing what he does best – singing, dancing, acting, being funny with his own characters and impersonating a few celebs.

Based on the reviews, I wish I had ordered the audio book since Short narrates it himself!

Mr. Short and I share a few similarities….we are both “M S”,we are both in our 64th year, we both love to laugh, and we are both Canadian. He actually was in Godspell with a distant cousin of mine – Jane Eastwood in 1970 ( who ,like my mom, went to Northern Secondary in Toronto) ….we share the same great great grandfather ( John Eastwood). She was excellent in Goin’ Down the Road.


Gordie Howe IS the greatest of them all…..

by Michael Schultz on November 4, 2014

When I was a lad, my dad and Uncle Bill used to take us to the Leaf games – in the late 50s….I remember Gordie Howe playing with Delvecchio and Lindsey and guys like that. We’d usually sit in the ‘Blues’ about centre ice at Maple Leaf Gardens.

In the early 60s, I was playing in the Marlie chain and used to practice at the Gardens. Great times. I do remember having an exhibition game against a team from Detroit one early Saturday morning. I also remember a couple of really young guys ( they would have been 7,8 or 9) Mark and Marty Howe playing on that team. They were pretty good but I think we won the match.

Years later I took my son to see a Toronto-Red Wings Oldtimers game in Georgetown. Guys like Carl Brewer laced them up. There was Gordie Howe slightly retired and probably in his mid-fifties. After the game, he signed autographs. My son’s head ( the back of it) made it into picture in the local paper. We decided to get a black and white copy from the Independent….afterall, this was Gordie Howe. Then, a few years later we were at a card show and Gordie was scheduled to appear. So we took the picture. My son lined up and got the old picture signed. Gordie – aka Mr. Hockey – had a very recognizable signature.

Now in 2014 Gordie is still with us despite some health challenges. He has a new book out called Mr. Hockey. Bobby Orr writes the Intro. In the sample I read, I discovered that Mr. Howe’s mother came from Stuttgart, Germany. Her name maiden surname was Schultz. Bit of a namesake.

Howe is right up there with Ruth, Gehrig, and Williams when it comes to fan recognition and adulation. Check out the fan response at the 1980 All-Star game in Detroit. Gordie is in his 50s here and still playing. No discouraging words for such a great player. Notice a few of the guys still aren’t wearing helmets – Howe included.


Common Ground

by Michael Schultz on November 1, 2014

I am reading Justin Trudeau’s autobiography…COMMON GROUND.  It’s highly readable and has lots of ‘fly on the wall’ moments.

Justin tells the story of when, in the 70s,  dad Pierre has a reunion party at 24 Sussex for alumni (staff and students) from his high school days. ( Justin attended the same alma mater) Pierre’s crusty old science teacher greets him at the PM’s residence by telling him he would have made a better physicist than prime minister. Gutsy – heckling.

It is a revealing book and timely. Justin weighs in with the emphasis and importance of debating. Canadians can be confident Trudeau ( the younger) has the skills of debating and the chops for international relations. He’ll never use attack ads – comforting ( dad would tell him you can attack your opponents’ policies but never their personality….another reason I have trouble voting Conservative).

As for debating, Trudeau has this to say about the art of debating:

” I also learned that debating at the college level is as much about the quick-witted ability of a stand-up comic as it is about logic and fine rhetoric. This was especially true whenever the resolution being debated was some frivolous subject as whether baths were better than showers or whether winter is better than summer. Given those kinds of topics, the most successful debaters are gifted comedians. It took me a while to fully appreciate this, because my sense of humour is more on the wry side than the kind that generates belly laughs. Eventually, though, I learned the ropes and adjusted my delivery.” – COMMON GROUND, Harper Collins, 2014.

As a teacher, two things that really got students engaged were spelling bees and debates. Even if they were on the sidelines of a debate, students would be totally fixated on  their fellow students going at it. Loved it.

Here’s Trudeau – still a backbencher – going after the PM – Harper.

Check out the tin can Pierre and Justin chart down a spring run down a river…Paul Wells from Macleans:

Hey Bud…the government is a pest….!

by Michael Schultz on October 31, 2014

I came across an interesting photo of a protest in the paper this morning. It shows thousands of Hungarians marching across the Elizabeth Bridge in Budapest protesting against a new government ( Prime Minister Viktor Orban) Internet tax. The tax proposes to charge Hungarians 150 forints (69 cents) for every gigabyte of data used. Hungary boasts ( not too loudly) an average monthly wage of only $950.00.

One protestor comments to the microphone saying that the Internet is free and there should not be a charge to use it etc. I think days ahead will be very different for travellers on the information highway. The days of freeloading and no advertising and downloading at random may be over. I found two things to be interesting about the clip – one, they all brandish their lit up cellphones like they are candles at a rock concert…..surely the light will shine through etc….and two, most of these folks are clearly the under 40 crowd. Perhaps it might be more effective to park all the cellphones and make all the producers buckle to their knees. But this won’t happen…I have seen the future and it clearly has communication devices that will ensure freedom and democracy.

I do remember walking across the Rainbow Bridge in Niagara Falls as a university student in 1969-70….protesting U.S. atomic blasts. Our mission that day – a few busloads of us…..was to cross the bridge on foot, carrying a rather dented globe of the world to present to officials on the other side ( like they had a direct line to President Nixon)…on the way back across the bridge after delivering our globe…someone decided to bring down the U.S. flag at the halfway point. That little insurrection prompted a mad dash to safety in the bus and departure home. Not exactly an international incident but hey, it was the sixties afterall.

Thick Skin?

by Michael Schultz on October 20, 2014

I was in Toronto this past weekend…lots of ‘John Tory for Mayor’ signs up in support of the upcoming municipal election that seems to have been going on since Mayor Rob Ford started his shenanigans a few years ago – we’ll all be happier when it’s over and Tory takes office and makes Toronto a saner place.

One reason many of us don’t go into politics is because of the hurt,adversary and mudslinging. He found the 2003 race and debates with David Miller ( who was elected) very respectful. However, even Tory’s mom has stopped watching the debates this year because they are so demeaning.

Tory admits he doesn’t like all the criticism even if he has developed a thicker  hide.

Says Tory, ” I just think oftentimes politicians aren’t honest when they say ‘none of that stuff bothers me’…what human would wake up to the newspaper in the morning, read some column containing some stuff that is diminishing your career personally, and not be concerned by that?”

His solution – “I just don’t bother to read it.”

Common (Ground) Beef

by Michael Schultz on October 19, 2014

Liberal leader Justin Trudeau (and probably Prime Minister in about a year here in Canada) was in hot water again recently….as they say, the fruit doesn’t fall too far from the tree. Dad (Pierre Trudeau) was always controversial and had a tendency to speak his mind. He was always accused of ‘foot in mouth disease’.

Justin Trudeau’s autobiography Common Ground comes out this week and is much anticipated. Sure it’ll be part 1….and the proceeds go to the Red Cross.

I would venture to say that since 2001, Canada had been taken down that ‘slippery slope’ of hawkism that is so much a part of our revolutionary neighbours to the south. First, we followed them into Afghanistan after 2001, flew their flag in sympathy, designated the Hero Highway and plastered “Support Our Troops” decals on our bumpers.

Now it’s 2014 and we’re still following them. Trudeau’s comments about our decision ( thanks to a Conservative majority) in interview with Don Newman recently were considered a ‘glib blooper’ (Globe and Mail – October 18, 2014). His comments opposing Canadian combat activity in Iraq were captured in his warning to Canada that we should ot “whip out our CF-18s to show how big they are.” Even former Prime Minister Jean Chretien wrote a piece in last week’s Globe against military involvement in Iraq. ( once you’re in – you’re in)

Harper seems to think that everything is attributable to ‘globalization’…..ebola, Iraq, oil.

It’s not a popular position for conservatives in Canada to sit back and not use our military muscle to eradicate the ‘bad guys’. Liberals are proposing humanitarian aid as an alternative. This wouldn’t be such a bad way to show our ‘big boy pants.’ That said….I yearn for the Canada I knew that stood behind peaceful means. A threat to us you say? – sure, and so is ebola. So let’s get our act together on our own shores before we sail to someone else’s. There’s more than one way to be a ‘good guy’ and a hero. Meanwhile a Russian ship lists off the shore of BC with the potential to spill fuel on our shores and we have to herald a tug boat from the US to come to the rescue. This is where our military needs to act not in the Middle East. It’s the wrong ‘money pit’.

I’m OK with Trudeau’s comment about the CF 18s. It’s a heck of a heckle. Expect more – afterall you won’t catch him wearing those suits discarded by Stalin and playing “With a Little Help from My Friends.” Speaking from the ‘cuff’ does come with its hazards…thank goodness some politicians still have the guts to do it.

Whack Job

by Michael Schultz on October 18, 2014

Crowds can be brutal to athletes. Hockey players have to practice their self control as much as their slapshot these days.

The Bruins played the Habs in Montreal this past week. Boston forward Milan Lucic ( never heard of him before this incident) is shown getting a penalty for laying a check on a Montreal player. He is ushered to the penalty box. The Bell Centre fans were heckling him relentlessly. Lucic loses it and mimics a gesture of beating off to the fans. He also raises his arms – symbolic of victory or perhaps raising the cup. Usually it’s the fans making the gestures – in this case it’s the player. Players fight each other and even use their tongues or sticks in an offending manner but it is believed that there is no place in the game for these kinds of gestures. The bottom line? …there are kids in the stands.

In the final analysis, Lucic was fined $5,000.00. The hand raising was one thing – the ‘hand job’ quite another. The camera sees it all.