Monday, March 18, 2013

The World's Deadliest Drinking Game

About a week ago, we more or less accidentally discovered the deadliest drinking game in the history of human civilization.

We realize this is a bold statement to make, and one that requires a certain amount of qualification. We admit that it is, in fact, possible to create a drinking game more deadly than the one we’ve discovered. Some examples that we absolutely recommend you do not ever, ever try include:
  1. That drinking game where you take a shot every time you breathe.
  2. The game where you take a sip every time somebody writes something offensive or stupid on the internet.
  3. That one that involves turpentine.
  4. The one where you re-create a day in the life of Oliver Reed.
The difference here is that the above games are obviously deliberately designed to kill you, whereas our discovery, is intended to be fun and entertaining, with your unavoidable death being merely an accidental if unfortunate side effect.

The single rule of this game is as simple as it is devastasting: listen to Mike Emrick talk, and take a shot every time he says something weird.

Hockey play-by-play announcer Mike Emrick, wo earned the nickname “Doc” after having graduated with a PhD in Phraseology from Thesaurus State University in 1976, is well known among America’s six dozen hockey fans for his enthusiasm for the sport and for his unusually wide-ranging vocabulary. So when this drinking-game rule demands that you take a shot when Emrick says something weird, it doesn’t mean talking (or, God help us, dressing) like Don Cherry. It means, rather, that you should have a drink whenever Emrick uses a puzzling or intriguing replacement for some of the sport’s more mundane verbs.

Let’s face it, there aren’t that many ways to describe propelling or directing a puck with a hockey stick—not for most of us, anyway—so we tend to stick with a small, meat-and-potatoes variety of verbs: Shot. Sent. Passed. Pushed. Bounced. Deflected, flipped, tipped, fed, held, lobbed. That’s about it for most people.

Not for Mike Emrick, though. Emrick seems to view this linguistic limitation as a challenge, and throws out a cavalcade of synonyms as easily and naturally as we might down an impossibly large number of alcoholic beverages.1

Lest you think we’re exaggerating, the following is a mostly-complete2 list of words used by Emrick during his call of the March 10, 2013, NHL game between the New York Rangers and Washington Capitals. Words used more than once are indicated by the numbers in parentheses:

  • Knifed (4)
  • Careened (2)
  • Filtered (6)
  • Ricocheted
  • Swatted (2)
  • Kicked (2)3
  • Rocked (2)
  • Jammed (3)
  • Sailed
  • Spiked (4)
  • Banked (4)
  • Pushed
  • Tucked (2)
  • Corralled
  • Speared (4)
  • Chipped (2)
  • Nudged (4)
  • Squirreled4
  • Floated (6)
  • Plucked
  • Popped/plopped (3)
  • Flagged (2)
  • Muscled (3)
  • Cancelled (2)
  • Punched (3)
  • Hoisted5 (5)
  • Reversed (2)
  • Pitched (3)
  • Brushed (2)
  • Ripped
  • Jabbed (2)
  • Stymied
  • Dealt (6)
  • Paddled (2)
  • Batted
  • Blistered
  • Shuffled (2)
  • Shanked (4)
  • Padded (2)
  • Hacked
  • Rattled
  • Squibbed
  • Lugged (2)
  • Trigger-pulled6
  • Steered (3)
  • Chopped
  • Scooped
  • Spiked
  • Slugged
  • Shaken
  • Twisted
  • Angled
Conspicuously absent from this list is “scaled,” which we know from viewing experience is one of Emrick’s favorites. Also worth noting is that near the end of the game, a clearly exhausted and mentally drained Emrick describes a puck as going into the corner. Even the greatest have limits.

So, at the rate of one shot per oddball word,  you have now just consumed 116 shots in the span of a single three-hour game on a Sunday afternoon. Congratulations! You are now dead, unless of course you are Oliver Reed . . . in which case, congratulations! You are now dead.

1. When we write “we” here, what we actually mean is “you.” We can stop any time we want. You’re the one with a problem.
2. For some reason, our wife and houseguests seemed to think it was appropriate to talk about hockey when there was a hockey game playing on the TV in our living room, so we were somewhat distracted and can’t guarantee that this list is comprehensive or 100% accurate. But given how little headway has been made in the scientific study of Mike Emrick’s vocabulary, we’re satisfied with our results.
3. As stated above, all of these terms were used to describe propelling or directing a puck with a stick, and not to describe any of the hundreds of other actions possible on a hockey rink, including but not limited to kicking. So in this case, the puck was not kicked in the traditional sense—that is, with, you know, a kick—but rather not-kicked with a stick, in a non-kicking motion.
4. See note 3, above. To the best of our ability to tell, enhanced by repeated slow-motion replay, the puck in question was not, in fact, propelled or directed in any way by a squirrel.
5. In some cases, Emrick may have used the word “foisted.” We are aware that the word “foisted” rarely makes any sense in a hockey context, but that doesn’t mean Emrick didn’t use it.
6. Emrick did not, in fact, use this phrase in the more conventional arrangement of “he pulled the trigger,” but rather as written, along the close lines of “the puck is trigger-pulled down the ice.”

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Another Good Reason to Like Hockey Players

ESPN, a colossal ESPN-centric entity that splits its time between savvy self-promotion and the occasional sports broadcast, has long received its fair share of criticism from multiple angles and various sources with axes to grind. Some of this criticism is significant and newsworthy in itself—such as when First Take’s Rob Parker got roasted, suspended, and then eventually let go for suggesting that Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III was insufficiently black.
RGIII’s whole left sleeve
white. Rob Parker was right!

We find it interesting that a discussion of race involving a team named the Redskins can, even in this day and age, have absolutely nothing to do with the team being named the Redskins, for God’s sake, but that’s a topic for another day on a different, much more mature blog.

Our gripe with ESPN, the Worldwide Leader in Sports and Also ESPN-Related ESPNinessTM, is far less socially significant and more centrally located in most people’s “who really gives a shit” category: that is, its tendency to occasionally and/or systematically forget that certain sports and/or leagues, such as the National Hockey League, actually exist.

There are dozens or perhaps hundreds of other sports that also get shortchanged when it comes to national news coverage, but that’s fine because nobody gives a shit about them.1

The NHL, despite Gary Bettman’s apparent best efforts, still really does exist, although fans are hard-pressed to find evidence of it on ESPN. Since 2004, for example, the network has broadcast the Scripps National Spelling Bee—by far the most athletically taxing of all spelling bees—seven times, and broadcast zero NHL games.2 In 2011, “the ESPN family of networks aired thirty-six hours of Main Event coverage”3 of the World Series of Poker—which is probably more like a sport than a spelling bee, but less so than, say, darts—and, again, zero hours of live NHL hockey.

And in the “In Memoriam” section of SportsCenter’s 2011 Year in Review, there was no mention of the deaths of Derek Boogaard, Ryan Rypien, or Wade Belak (the first two being active NHL players at the time of their deaths), or of the forty-three members of Lokomotiv Yaroslavl in a plane crash in Minsk.4

Does this make the folks at ESPN bad people? No. Well, kinda, but not really. It does mean, though, that the network has a lot of work to do to make it up to, or even stay relevant to, American fans of hockey.

We view the following as an encouraging step in the right direction. Our wife, Dr./Mrs. Some Gal, would probably agree for very different reasons.5

1. We were going for kind of an irony angle here; not sure if we’ve quite pulled it off it not.
2. In ESPN’s defense, they only stopped broadcasting NHL games when it became apparent that they were going to continue to have to pay for it.
4. We understand that many, many athletes have died without making an ESPN end-of-year memorial segment, some of them likely being well-known and having played popular sports, but to overlook a disaster on the scale of the Lokomotiv Yaroslavl crash is a bit galling. We don’t have a scrap of evidence to back this up, but we have managed to convince ourselves that the Marshall football team’s plane crash got more press than Lokomotiv in 2012, and that happened more than thirty years ago.
5. We are big fans of hockey and Muppets; the doctor/missus is a big fan of Henrik Lundqvist’s dreamy Swedish eyes. So everyone wins here.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Today's Good News

In case you are looking for some good news today, keep this in mind:

After sixty years, Joseph Stalin remains dead. Better yet, doctors do not expect his condition to improve.

Joseph Stalin: alive, 1878–1953. Dead, ever since.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

The $5,300 Toilet

In what almost certainly provided a pleasing "hey, it's not just us" moment for the United States military, in November 2012, Ontario lawyer Jim Vigmond paid more than five thousand dollars for a toilet. Yes, really. It wasn’t just any toilet, though—it was a dressing-room toilet from Toronto’s historic Maple Leaf Gardens.

In other words, it’s very much like any other toilet. While it’s well established that people are willing to spend a tremendous amount of money on things that do little little more than create poop, it’s a bit more unusual to spend anything more than hardware-store-standard prices to collect an object that does nothing but collect poop. While one can, in fact, easily spend a couple grand on amazing space-age shitters, five thousand dollars seems like an especially outrageous price for a normal one, even if it has, in its heyday, been on the receiving end of some of the most distinguished shit in the annals of Canadian hockey.

Some fun historical facts about Jim Vigmond’s costly crapper:

  • On February 6, 1976, Darryl Sittler took an astounding ten dumps into this toilet in one sixty-minute span, setting an NHL record that may well never be broken. If someone does come along and break it—we’re still talking about the record here, but the same goes for the toilet—we don’t want to know about it.
  • Hall-of-Fame center Mats Sundin used this toilet exclusively for the bulk of his Maple Leafs career. Unfortunately, during that span, the shitters to his left and right were rarely any good.
  • Dion Phaneuf never got to use this toilet, as the Leafs stopped playing at Maple Leaf Gardens in 1999 and he first joined the team in 2009. Had he ever used it, though, Sean Avery probably would have claimed to have gotten there first.
  • We would like to add a fourth bullet point right about here, but are forced to admit that we don’t know all that much about the Toronto Maple Leafs. We should have done more research, by which we mean stealing jokes from Down Goes Brown.

Our biggest disappointment here is that, had we posted on this topic back in November when it was relevant, and when the National Hockey League was in the throes of yet another stupid and contentious lockout, we could have wrapped this all up with a joke about how Jim Vigmond could look into his $5,300 toilet and see the remains of the 2012-2013 NHL season.

But then we remembered that Vigmond is a Maple Leafs fan, and when he takes a look into the shitter, he can see every season since 1967.