Sunday, March 31, 2013

Roller Derby Nationals

A week or so back Christina and I found ourselves at West Edmonton Mall. While wandering around we came across the National Tournament of the Roller Derby Association of Canada. I was intrigued....

Chrissy and I tried watching the local team E-ville play once in the past and ended up at some lame-o drama club production. I was so disappointed in the experience I swore off watching Roller Derby ever again. But, being that I was already at the mall and it looked like a new game was beginning I figured "What the hell. Let's give it another shot."

We watched the two teams warm up for awhile then settled in from a different angle to watch the actual competition.

To be completely honest - it was a disappointment. The speed of movement was slower than I expected and considerably slower than the warm ups. The Jammers (think of a rabbit) glided alot only going full on speed for a few strides every pass.  The Pack (basically blockers) barely moved along the track simply jockeying for position to let their teams jammer pass through. Where I expected high speed breakneck action like a kick return in football I instead witnessed a rush hour traffic jam. Maybe it was just the teams playing, or a certain strategy being utilized but I was severely disappointed.

Color me jaded...

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Turning 34 Years Old

Another year and another birthday, or at least in this case, birthday week.

As both Christina and Monica (my family in Edmonton) were going to be out of town during my actual birthday, the 26th of March, they each planned little celebrations prior to their leaving town.

Monica arranged a small little party that included delicious cakes made by my niece Claire in her Easy Bake Oven and a candle stuffed inside of a slice of meat. Little did I know at the time that the presence of meat was foreshadowing for my actual birthday.

Chrissy took a different approach and presented me my gift prior to her leaving for work in Texas. She always stresses out about what I may want as a gift so to help ease her mind I gave her a list of suggestions. Even with my suggestions she was still nervous; but she had no need to be. I quite like my 'man valet' organizer.

So, on my actual birthday I woke up to an empty house and hit the snooze button with no remorse twice.  
I went out to the mail box to check if my mother still loved me and found out that she did. I got a nice card from 'sunny?' Thunder Bay where she is visiting my brother Richards family. Also included with my birthday card was a true card celebrating my birth. Mom ended up inheriting a bunch of personal items from her aunt and included in those items was the following birth announcement that my mom wrote up 34 years ago.

I thought it was pretty cool! Plus, its funny to see that Mom's handwriting has not changed a single iota during all that time.

Once I got to work and started up the computer I was greeted by a bunch of emails and facebook comments wishing me well from my family and friends. As well I got a 'doodle' from Google wishing me a  special day.

I usually play it pretty quiet at work for my birthday but Chrissy all the way from Texas had other plans. She arranged her friend Mary to enact "Operation Cupcake" and deliver me and my office-mates treats. I was taken completely by surprise.

Mary knowing that I had been 'orphaned' offered to take me out for supper with her husband and brother so I wouldn't have to celebrate alone. To sweeten the deal she suggested BBQ food and I immediately took her up on the offer. Shortly after work we met at a new restaurant (open about 6 months now) called Sloppy Hoggs Roed Hus.

My pictures can't do it justice. The whole spread was awesome from the poutine like 'Slop', starter through the platter and ending with the peach pie. I can say with no hesitation that it is the best BBQ food in Edmonton and possibly the best BBQ I have ever had. It is a must try and I'm looking forward to going back many times.

While leaving the Kingsway area I got a text from my buddy Jeff D to go see the new Rock movie "Snitch" up at North Edmonton Cinema. I readily agreed and jumped in my car hitting the theater 5 minutes before the show started. I grabbed my ticket and then texted Jeff who was still on his way. Eventually, he arrived at the theater and as we texted each other to meet in the lobby a strange thing happened. It turned out I went to the wrong theater. It was a typical Stuart move. If you ask Chrissy she will tell you that I am a complete idiot with place names and stores. For me, every grocery store is Safeway, every crap country singer is Kenny Chesney, every theater is the one in Clareview, and Stadium and Colisuem LRT stations mean nothing - they are the place where they play football and the place where they play hockey. Jeff was cool about it all and we each watched the same movie in cinemas 20 minutes apart. It was a somewhat fitting end to the day.

Reflecting on a day like today, or week like the past, I feel fortunate to have such a caring family and to have so many great friends. I don't say it enough but I appreciate you all. Thank you.

BTW - I originally started this blog to document my 31st year. After that first year I just decided to keep posting and with the odd short sabbatical I have now been blogging for 3 straight years and have produced 233 posts. Who would have thunk it.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Oilers Versus My Redwings

On March 15th the Detroit Redwings came into town and my buddy Dan took me to the game with his corporate tickets. As a longtime Redwings fan I try and make every game that they come to Edmonton. Even though the Oilers have sucked for a long time they always seem to play Detroit tough and I'm treated to a pretty competitive game.

Being that it was a Friday night game the crowd was in good spirits and jacked for the game.

As a loyal fan I donned my Datsyuk jersey and entered directly into enemy territory. The boo's and threats rained down but I stood my ground in front of the Oilers dressing room.

The game itself didn't start so hot. Taylor Hall broke in untouched early to slide one by Howard for a quick 1-0 lead and the Oilers added to that in the second holding a 2-0 advantage going into the 3rd. It was hard to tell if the Oilers were playing well or if the Wings were just stinking it up.

Nobody looked overly sharp, with the Wings defense looking downright awful. They had no confidence with the puck, Kindle was doing everything he could not to have it on his stick. The D showed no jump for loose pucks, choosing instead to let the Oilers forwards come at them. Other than some flourishes by Datsyuk (like making Smyth look foolish) and the chin of Tootoo there wasn't much to cheer for.

A sweet Filpulla backhand and bonehead play by the Oilers Petry allowed the Redwings to tie it up in the 3rd and you could feel the air come out of the building as the Detroit fans found their voice. From his stance in this picture this dude is a Dave Lewis fan.

With the game going into overtime the Oilers looked content with a single point (just look below how they put no pressure on Fransen) and Datsyuk once again pulled a rabbit out of his hat.

Celebratory drinks were needed so I headed to the bar next door to drown a beer or two with other Detroit fans. A cool moment was meeting a former UFC fighter Tim "The Thrashing Machine" Hague after commenting on the 'uniqueness' of his bunnyhug. We chatted for awhile and he was a really nice modest guy. In the picture below he is the big guy with the beard beside me.

With the Wings moving to the Eastern Division I am sad that I will have less chances to see them live but am excited that I will probably get more of their games on TV as they re-establish their dominance of the Maple Leafs on Hockey Night In Canada.

In closing I want to give a big thank you to Dan and to NorthShore Environmental Consultants for the tickets. I had an awesome time.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

New Sarepta Charity Hockey Tournament 2013

We are just 2 days away from the 4th Annual North Shore Ice Devils/Ninjas charity hockey tournament and I am getting pretty excited. As well as reffing the odd game I will be playing for the Puckheads as we chase down the B Side trophy.

This year we have a pretty exciting addition of a "Shoot To Win" for $25,000. Three tickets will be drawn and the shooters will aim to get the puck through the open space on the net from the far blue line. Simple!

So come one down to New Sarepta this weekend.

And in the meantime take a look at our tournament website, follow our team on Twitter, and check out some pictures from past years here and here.

These pucks from our sponsor MEG Energy are going to see a lot of use.

The trophy everyone is chasing

Update: Another great tourney in the books and a new championship team: The Rusty Nuts.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Badminton Champs

Sometime near the middle of the this season of badminton Christina and I (Birds of a Feather) really started to click and last night we capped off the season by becoming Edmonton Sport and Social Club Recreation B Badminton Champions.

But, it was bound to happen really. How could the combination of my spinning backhand and Christina's net domination result in anything other than a mixed doubles Badminton (Div B) Championship?

But like any great sports success story it starts with an underdog. After finishing in the bottom third of teams last year in our inaugural season we had low expectations heading into our second year - and our season started off slow in a large pool of players where we were competitive but not winning a lot of matches.

This led to our being seeded into the Recreation B division. However, once we found our new divisional home we started to really take off. We finished the regular season 8-2 with a league best +169 differential for the top seed going into the playoffs.

Our first playoff match was against the #4 seed: Bad Mittens. We took the first game 21-17 and lost the second game 18-21 setting up an all or nothing third game for the Match. We narrowly squeaked through 15-13 putting us into the Finals against the #2 seed Bad Birdies.

Chrissy came out flying all around the court and we took the first game 21-17. We ran away early in the second game and coasted into a 21-14 win for the Match and the Championship. Playing out the evening in style we took the third game for fun 15-11.

It was a couple of hard matches and while still glistening from the effort we snapped some celebratory pictures on my cell phone.

Christina was a fantastic partner. She had great presence at the front of the net and was lightning fast returning the low over the net shots. Plus, most importantly she was a lot of fun.

We look forward to taking on all comers next year! Well, as long as they are in the B or lower Division.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Uni-Corn Holders

I've been sick for the last little bit with my annual March cold. As I have been housebound a lot I don't have much to post about so I'm filling out the blog with a bit of ridiculousness.

Near the end of beginning of March we had some unusually fantastic weather so I jumped at the chance to have a classic summer meal of BBQ steak and corn on the cob. While I was excited to fire up the BBQ Chrissy was excited to use her 'a little tipsy' purchase from a novelty shop in San Francisco - UniCorn Holders.

They worked Magically well!

And they are multi-purpose utensils! 5 Star Purchase!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

University of Alberta vs. University of Saskatchewan Hockey

Last weekend completely out of the blue Rob texted me telling me that he was coming to Edmonton to watch the UofS Huskies play the UofA Golden Bears in the deciding game of the 3 game series for the CIS CandaWest title. Of course I joined him to cheer on my alma matter (UofS).

I'm almost ashamed to admit it but it was my first ever CIS/University hockey game. Not knowing what to expect I was extremely impressed by the speed, precision and physical play of the game.

By the end of the first period it was apparent that it was the UofA's game to lose as they dominated play and held a 3 goal lead. At this point us 'fans' started entertaining ourselves through mascot abuse.

And gambling...which led to a big 50/50 win.

The Huskies in the 3rd period popped in a couple of goals but they were outclassed by the Golden Bears who coasted through for a 5-2 win and the Championship.

The Huskies may have lost but us fans still  felt a need to celebrate a bit - so we headed to The Pint for a table keg.

By about 9:30PM we were the only group in the bar. And like the party animals that we are, we played full sized Jenga as the bar staff bored out of their mind looked on. 

The team of Rob and myself ended up winning as we all employed the jerk move of simply stacking horizontal blocks. Champs!

So, if I learned anything from this night it was always do things on a whim and that its better to be a loser from the UofS than a winner from the UofA. Heyo!